My Cancelled Flight to Europe: What Are My Rights & Do They Owe Me Compensation?

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LEVEL Cancelled Flight Rights

Yesterday I wrote about how I gambled on new low cost carrier LEVEL for my family’s upcoming trip to Europe. We chose LEVEL for the flight from Las Vegas to Paris Orly because it was only 99 Euro one-way plus it was nonstop from our home airport. I was as excited for the flight as one can be when flying 10+ hours in coach, but alas I won’t get to fly the airline because they cancelled the route.

After writing yesterday’s post several people wrote to me about the various rights passengers have with flights departing from or heading to the European Union under EU261. I had known about a lot of the delay/cancellation rights, but wasn’t sure how they applied when the airline gives plenty of notice. In this case I was informed a little under two months before the flight.

Calling LEVEL to be Re-booked

The first thing I tried to do yesterday was call LEVEL to let them know I didn’t want a refund, but instead wanted to be re-booked. The agent on the phone said she could switch me on a Newark to Paris Orly flight (New Jersey is far from Nevada), but she couldn’t put me on another carrier. In order to get more help I was told I needed to file a claim online.

LEVEL Cancelled Flight Rights
Now we have to find another way to get to Paris!

Answering My Claim

To their credit LEVEL responded to my claim within 24 hours, but I am not sure they are being completely honest. Here is what they claim their obligation is under EU261.

In cases in which a flight is affected by a notified cancellation, our Passenger Assistance Plan offers the following options:

– Free date change to fly up to 15 days before or after the original departure date on another Level France destination

– A refund on the affected journeys

According to Regulation (EC) 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004, if you are notified of the cancellation over 14 days in advance, you are not entitled to compensation.

If you have any other questions, suggestions or requests, please do not hesitate to contact us.

No Compensation Due?

While their assessment that no compensation is due is correct, they forgot to mention that the section mentioned in their own response says something else. I dug it up and here is the exact text.

1. In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall:
(a) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 8; and
(b) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 9(1)(a) and 9(2), as well as, in event of re-routing when the reasonably expected time of departure of the new flight is at least the day after the departure as it was planned for the cancelled flight, the assistance specified in Article 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c); and
(c) have the right to compensation by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 7, unless:
(i) they are informed of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure; or
(ii) they are informed of the cancellation between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than four hours after the scheduled time of arrival; or
(iii) they are informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.

LEVEL Cancelled Flight Rights

Do They Need to Re-Book Me Under EU Law?

Now it does specifically exclude compensation if notification is made more than 14 days out, however it also states that passengers are to be offered assistance according to Articles 8 & 9. Again, I’m not an expert, but I did ask a few other people and they all seemed to read it the same as me. Now, here are what articles 8 & 9 say:

Article 8
Right to reimbursement or re-routing
1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between:
(a) – reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, together with, when relevant,
– a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity;
(b) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity; or
(c) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability of seats.
2. Paragraph 1(a) shall also apply to passengers whose flights form part of a package, except for the right to reimbursement where such right arises under Directive 90/314/EEC.
3. When, in the case where a town, city or region is served by several airports, an operating air carrier offers a passenger a flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.
Article 9
Right to care
1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge:
(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;
(b) hotel accommodation in cases
– where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or
– where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary;
(c) transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other).
2. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.
3. In applying this Article, the operating air carrier shall pay particular attention to the needs of persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of unaccompanied children.

I am not a lawyer and I certainly am not an expert in European Law, however if I read the text correctly one of the options in addition to refund or being booked out of Newark should be comparable transport to/from the same cities.

LEVEL Flight Cancellation Rights – To Be Continued…

While I still don’t know how this will all turn out, I have emailed all of this information to LEVEL customer service with the hope they can explain why what they say differs from the actual text of the law. Hopefully they will do the right thing and re-book us on another airline if that is what the law says they have to do.

I’ll make sure to write a follow up when this is resolved to let everyone else know their LEVEL flight cancellation rights given the misinformation that is out there. In the mean time share your experiences with LEVEL below!

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Shawn –

    Thank you for your article. I was able to call and was also offered the ORL-EWR flight as well. I, too, explained that Newark was too far away to be practicable and asked to speak to a supervisor. After a short hold, the original CSR returned to the line, and she stated that they would accommodate me on BA, leaving within a few hours of the original booking. The routing was ORY-LHR-LAX. It might be worth HUCB.

  2. hahahaahaaha. LEVEL is going to get the best of this.

    so do offer to fly you from las to ewr on spirit and then you have a layover for 18 hours. are you really going to take them up on that offer?

  3. [Not a lawyer but had countless encounters with EC261]
    Yes, that is in fact your two options and LEVEL should oblige to them. What they are “supposed” to do and well within the terms of EC261 would be to fly you LAS-EWR on UA (given Spirit and Frontier are red eyes are take off the day before, not to mention a 17 to 18 hour layover) and then put you on the EWR to ORY flight operated by LEVEL. With the European low-cost carriers it is mostly very difficult to get what you deserve, according to the law. But even there I have had good luck as well.

    I would suggest booking an award ticket that you can cancel easily without a large penalty, just in case LEVEL offers you a good solution. If they are offering a nonsense connecting flight or fight with teeth and claws about this whole thing, then I would just take the refund and move on.

  4. Rerouting applies to your final destination ie if the flight is cancelled after you have already flown the inbound segment. In this case you can legitimately ask to be rerouted to your final destination since you would otherwise be stranded.

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