My Experience Filing A KLM EU261 Claim & Walking Away $1200 Richer

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Filing A KLM EU261 Claim

Filing A KLM EU261 Claim

I flew with my mom from Las Vegas to Basel, Switzerland in June of 2022. Although we were supposed to arrive on June 13, 2022, at around 3 PM, we didn’t end up arriving until June 14, 2022, at around 10 PM. This entitled us to EU261 compensation. While sharing my experience filing a KLM EU261 claim, I’ll discuss how I applied, and in the end, got $600 each in compensation.

What is EU261, and How Much Are You Owed?

EU261 is a law that came into effect in 2005 in the European Union. This law has requirements on compensation and assistance in case of delays, denied boarding, and cancellations. For a more in-depth guide into EU261, here is a guide that discusses EU261.

The amount of money you are owed depends on the distance of your flight, along with the length of your delay. Here is a table that explains how much you are owed:

Distance 3 hours or less 3 – 4 hours More than 4 hours Never arrived Flights on Non-EU Airlines arriving in the EU
Flights 1,500 km or less No Compensation 250 Euros 250 Euros 250 Euros No Compensation
EU Flights over 1,500 km No Compensation 400 Euros 400 Euros 400 Euros No Compensation
Non-EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,000 km No Compensation 400 Euros 400 Euros 400 Euros No Compensation
Non-EU flights over 3,500 km No Compensation 300 Euros 600 Euros 600 Euros No Compensation

Does This Law Apply If You Fly a US Airline?

Sort of. If you are leaving the US and flying a US airline, then you don’t qualify for EU compensation. But, if you are leaving Europe on a US airline, then you can get compensation.

Does This Compensation Apply To All Delays?

No, it doesn’t. According to the EU website, compensation is not due if your flight was affected by political instability, air traffic management decisions, security risks, strikes by a third party that affects the operations of the airline, and adverse weather.

But, you can get compensation if your flight was affected by technical problems, strikes, by airline staff who work for the airline, the collision of a jetway and plane, etc. The reason my mother and I got compensation was because of technical issues.

Filing A KLM EU261 Claim

Filing A KLM EU261 Claim: How Did I File?

The reason I was owed compensation was that my flights were a day late. When I went to start the EU261 process on the KLM website, the site couldn’t find my canceled flight. The flight that was canceled was from Amsterdam to Basel. This is because I never “flew” that, so the site couldn’t find it. We were in Europe, so I contacted KLM through Twitter. They asked for:

  • A contact email address
  • A contact phone number
  • A street name and number
  • Apartment/entrance/building – zip code
  • City and Country
  • Flying Blue-number
  • Booking code
  • Ticket number – flight number, flight date, route, operating carrier
  • A short summary OTHER – voucher or bank transfer? (if Customer Care decided you are eligible for compensation) Please note that compensation in the form of a voucher may have a higher value than a bank transfer. If you choose bank transfer: – account holder – registered address – the name of the bank – city of the bank – IBAN number (or bank account number if you do not have IBAN) – BIC/SWIFT number.

How Long Did It Take KLM to Respond?

At that point, it was basically a waiting game. It is possible to check the status of your claim on the KLM website, but our status didn’t change for about 3 months.  I would send them a direct message every month or so.  They would usually respond with something along the lines of:

I understand that you would like to see your case resolved as soon as possible. Please note that due to high volumes, the reply from Customer Care may take longer than usual. I kindly ask for your extended patience in the meantime.

But, on 9/28/22, I got an email saying:

Dear Mr. Ryan,

Thank you for your email dated June 18th, 2022, regarding your canceled flight KL636 from Las Vegas to Amsterdam on June 12th, 2022. At the outset, we are sorry that you were unable to travel as planned.

As per our records, the aforementioned flight was canceled due to a ground handling staff shortage. As a result, your flight KL636 was canceled. Hence, you were rebooked on the next alternative available flight on the following day. Whilst situations such as these are unpredictable, we do acknowledge and realize the impact they have on the schedules of our passengers.

We truly understand the inconvenience you must have encountered by arriving at your destination with considerable hours of delay.

Under EU regulation EC261/2004, this is the indeed situation where passengers are entitled to compensation. I, therefore, confirm that I have arranged for electronic payment of USD 601 each to be made to the bank account you have specified. This should credit within the next 21 days.

Filing A KLM EU261 Claim

Summary of the Email

This meant we got a total of $1202 since there were two people on the reservation. I filed a DOT complaint and a Dutch aviation authority complaint, but they responded to the EU claim first.

What to do if the airline doesn’t respond?

Luckily, KLM responded, but I thought that they might not. Had this happened, I would’ve called them, and as a last resort, used AirHelp. AirHelp was a last resort because they take about a 35% cut if there is no lawyer involved, which could’ve happened. This meant that we would’ve only gotten about $800 out of the $1200. Again, it’s better than nothing, but it’s definitely a last resort.

Filing A KLM EU261 Claim – Final Thoughts

As much as it was bad to have our flight canceled and delayed, getting $600 each certainly took a lot of pain out of it. In our experience, it was super easy to get compensation from KLM. But, it isn’t always that easy. In that case, I’d recommend looking into legal options, which can be challenging in the US, or AirHelp.

What are your thoughts on EU261? Have you gotten compensation before? If so, what was the experience like? Let me know in the comments below!

John Ryan
John Ryan
John is fifteen years old and is addicted to the world of points and miles. He has been to forty-nine states, fourteen countries, and has flown 70,000 miles in 2021, which is the equivalent of flying from Vegas to Europe 14 times. He is also a Las Vegas fanatic and he has lived there his entire life. He loves figuring out ways for him and his parents to travel cheaper, even while he is in school. His goal is to go to all fifty states by age 16 and to hopefully be the youngest male to visit every country.

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  1. Thanks for the useful information.

    Does EU261 apply if you’re flying a fifth freedom flight to Europe?

    Were you reimbursed for meals and hotels due to the delay?

    • Hi Christian, glad you found this article helpful.

      If you’re flying a European airline to Europe, then EU261, but if not, it won’t apply.

      Since the delay was when we were leaving in Vegas, we didn’t have any lodging or meal expenses to cover. We did have to spend €100 extra for a hotel, but although I’m sure we could’ve filed, the compensation was plenty to cover it.

  2. I’ve claimed, and received, EC261 compensation in the past but anyone know how I should handle this situation? I paid for 2 friends to come to USA this summer. FRA-BOS. Flight was cancelled, so they qualify. I want to file, but I want to get the $, not have my friends get the $. They have no idea what EC261 is, let alone have the inclination to file. Can I file an get the $? And, yes, I can prove I paid for the tickets, I’m not scamming.

    • Hi, Pat. In this situation, since your friends’ names are on the reservation and they are the people who had their flight canceled, they are the ones who would get the money. But, that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t put your bank account info, provided that the airline accepts it. That probably won’t work, so proceed with caution on that.


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