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File An EU261 Claim With Lufthansa

On our recent trip to Europe to check out some Christmas Markets we ended up missing our connection flight home because of a delay out of Munich. Since we were stranded for an extra night I was able to file an EU261 claim with Lufthansa for compensation per the law that was put into place back in 2005. I will give you a brief overview of what EU261 is and also my timeline on getting paid for our claim. The process was smoother than expected and the payout ended up covering our entire cost for the trip. An extra night in Europe and getting a free trip out of the deal, that is a win I will take every day and twice on Sunday.

What Is EU261?

EU261 is a law in Europe that was rolled out back in 2005. It put into place protections and set parameters for compensation for travelers should they get delayed, denied boarding or left stranded by a flight cancellation. This was put into place for European Union (EU) airlines, but it also requires any airline flying out of, or within, the EU to abide by it. Flights from outside the EU to the EU only require European Union airlines to abide by the law. So that means if you are flying a US airline home you are covered but you are not on the way to Europe. Here is a link to the full law

The compensation you receive depends on how long you were delayed and the distance of your flight:

Distance Of FlightOver 3 HoursOver 4 Hours
All flights 1,500km or less€250€250
Internal EU flights over 1,500km€400€400
Non Internal EU Flights 1,500km – 3,500km€400€400
Non Internal EU Flights 3,500km+€300€600

How To File An EU261 Claim With Lufthansa: Our Flight Details

We were scheduled to fly home from Munich on December 15th, with a connection through Frankfurt. The layover was tight, at a little over an hour, but our flight was the first one out in the morning so figured we would likely be okay.  After a delayed boarding, with no explanation on the hold up, we were finally ready to depart. It was going to be close but I thought we might be able to still make it. That is when they told us to deplane because of a mechanical issue. Just great!

That was all the information we got too. There was no one at the gate and no one else around to tell us exactly what was going on or what to do. We were flying business class so I headed over to the lounge to see if there was anything they could do. I guess Lufthansa lounge staff has no ability to rebook flights or help in any meaningful way, which I found kind of shocking. That is one of the work arounds when things go wrong here in the US.

We were told to go to the customer service desk and they could help us. The problem with that was that every desk had a huge line that was going to take hours. Lufthansa was a complete mess in both airports and people were having flights cancelled right and left. Accepting our fate and what was likely going to be a frustrating morning, we went and got in line. After waiting in line for 15 minutes or so we heard an announcement that said to get back to the gate. It was easy to miss, and many people did.

Finally Getting To Frankfurt

When we got back to the gate they told us to get back on the plane. I guess there was a dent on the cargo door that they had checked out, and after further inspection we were told we were good to go. The what was a full flight now had half the seats empty. We finally took off about 90 minutes late. We knew our flight from Frankfurt to Detroit had already taken off but figured getting to Frankfurt was the best option since there were more flight options there.

I was prepared to get into another long line upon landing but luckily I was alerted with an email from Lufthansa once I turned my cell service back on. They had already rebooked us on the flight the following morning in business class. This was a huge relief and I have to imagine having a business class ticket helped there. I should also mention that I didn't see any cut the line option for business or first class passengers at the Lufthansa customer service desk, another mind boggling choice

How To File An EU261 Claim With Lufthansa: Compensation

As you can see from the chart above we fell into the lower right box and were entitled to €600 for our missed connection and being stranded an extra night in Europe. I didn't mess with worrying about hotel or food reimbursement. The lines were too long to make it worth asking for vouchers and we had booked our flights as one ways on our Amex Business Platinum cards which means we didn't have travel insurance (round trip bookings are required). There was a category 1 Hyatt Place near the airport, one stop away via train, that was only 5,000 points a night. We ate pretty cheaply at the Christmas Markets in town too so we didn't miss out on much anyway.  

Once we got home I didn't have time to get into anything with Christmas fast approaching so I was delayed in filing a claim with Lufthansa. To find the proper form all I did was Google Lufthansa EU261 claim and got to the form pretty quickly. I imagine that the same process should work for most carriers. 

I needed to fill out our booking code, flight number, flight date etc. so be sure to keep as much of your stuff as possible. Take screen shots of your boarding pass or keep the paper tickets. Get all of your booking emails in one place and ready to check when filling out the form. We also had to put personal information and it took about 10 minutes to do in total.

How To File An EU261 Claim With Lufthansa

Lufthansa EU261 Compensation Timeline

Here is a timeline of our Lufthansa EU261 compensation:

  • 12/15/22 – Flight missed
  • 12/27/22 – Filed EU261 claim with Lufthansa
  • 1/6/23 – Email received saying they received my claim and it looked like I was due compensation and that it was sent to the proper department to review.
    • We were also asked for bank account information for the payment which I responded to them with an email
  • 2/9/23 – Email received saying we were entitled to €1200 and that the payment would be made shortly
  • 2/14/22 – A deposit for $1,258.86 showed up in our checking account

All in all, the process was really easy and went smoother than I expected. I figured it would require multiple follow ups but it didn't require much of me. It ended up working out in our favor that it took a bit of time since the Euro rebounded a bit against the dollar versus when we were in Europe. 

How To File An EU261 Claim With Lufthansa: ToP Thoughts

Lufthansa was kind of a mess in the airports and while flying them, it seemed like they had cancellations all over the place and didn't have the infrastructure to handle it. Because of that I figured our EU261 claim would take ages and tons of follow up to get properly compensated. I am happy to say that I was wrong on that and the total process was fairly painless and took less than two months to get paid. 

The fact that the extra day in Europe only cost us 5,000 World of Hyatt points and about $50 in food and train tickets worked out in our favor. So much so that the $1250 more than covered the entire cost of our trip. Do I plan on booking tight connections home hopping for a similar delay from now on? I can't say that I won't, especially if I have some flexibility on getting home!


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