I had a journey booked with Air France from France to China. It included two legs: one by train to CDG (operated by SNCF), and one by plane from CDG to China. Both had Air France flight numbers and were on the same booking.

The train was almost 2 hours late (due to technical problems as I understand), causing me to miss the connecting flight. Air France put me on the next flight the following day. They provided accommodation for the night.

Overall, I arrived about 15 hours later than scheduled. Do I have the right for compensation in this case?

It is not clear to me how/if the rules about cancellations and delays apply here.

  • I have heard that by accepting anything -- eg accommodation and another flight, vouchers, etc -- you give up the right to further compensation. But this is purely hearsay and someone who knows more about these things will hopefully come by and answer your question. Jul 24, 2017 at 12:13
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Wikipedia is not a definitive source, but it says, "Payments are strictly compensation for customers' inconvenience and do not replace or form a part of any potential reimbursements for unused tickets, trips in vain, additional transport costs, meals and accommodation." (see my link).
    – Alf
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:20
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas: I don't think such an argument would find traction in a European court. The legal theory behind it would have to be something like the passenger should have known that the small bit of assistance he was offered was meant to be in exchange for not expecting more later. That may work in a legal context where the airline didn't have to give him anything -- but what you're describing is a case where the airline offers merely part of what the EU passenger rights regulation entitles him to, and in then no viable reason he would have accepted it as full settlement. Jul 24, 2017 at 15:46
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    In this particular case, I think the main stumbling point is whether the air passenger rights apply at all, when the delayed leg was a train journey. The rules are based on which kind of transportation service you actually had a contract for, not which kind of company sold it. By its wording, the air passenger rights regulation does not apply to train journeys, and the train passenger rights are different. Jul 24, 2017 at 15:58
  • Hence why I said "I have heard" :) I do not know either way, and what I had heard came from those flying airlines such as easyJet and RyanAir who will do anything to trick you into agreeing that you've been 'compensated'. Jul 24, 2017 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


No, the standard rules set out in EU 261 do not apply here, as the delay was not caused by the airline but by a train delay. The aircraft was not delayed or cancelled, the passenger failed to board it due to a prior non-airline-related delay.

EU 261 lays out the rights of airline passengers in the case of delays, cancellations, lost luggage and other issues which have been prevalent in air travel for many years, but it very specifically only contains wording pertaining to flights and airports. It would take a significant legal case to have that wording applied to trains and train stations...

EU 261 applies to all EU member states, EU airlines and foreign airlines operating flights from the EU.

The fact that the train ticket was issued by Air France has no bearing here - it was a train ticket, and the delay was caused by the train issues.

EU 1371 sets out similar rights in the case of rail passengers, but most significantly here is the issue that it is not automatically applied to all rail operators - EU member states get to decide if the EU regulation is to be enacted within their jurisdiction.

France basically exempts all of its domestic rail services from the compensation schemes laid out in the EU regulation (page 7, France is listed as having "Exemptions of all services (domestic, urban, suburban and regional)"), so your issue remains with SNCF itself and its own compensation policies.

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    If that is so, it is a nasty oversight in the regulations, given that from the passenger's point of view there is little difference between a train and a flight leg. While booking, they are displayed identically, and there is no choice between a flight/train. The train station has an airport code, the train has a flight number, and in fact the ticket issued to me has no indication whatsoever that one leg is by train (that is explained only in the check-in instructions). The ticket even says (incorrectly): "Vol effectué par SNCF", i.e. "Flight handled by SNCF".
    – Alf
    Jul 25, 2017 at 9:46
  • @Alf even if European, French, or other law gives you no right of compensation, the airline is nonetheless free to compensate you. Have you asked the airline for compensation?
    – phoog
    Jul 25, 2017 at 15:01
  • @Alf why is it a nasty oversight in the regulations? The regulations don't cover delays caused by transfers either, the airlines responsibility is for the portion of the trip that they have operational control over - the flights.
    – user29788
    Jul 26, 2017 at 1:06

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