United Kingdom

Does the time you land or get off the plane count for EU flight compensation?

We flew to Denmark in October from Dusseldorf, via a connecting flight from Amsterdam.

We missed our connecting flight from Amsterdam due a delay in our flight from Dusseldorf. 

Ultimately we landed at Amsterdam two hours and 55 minutes late, but we were de-planed in the cargo area in Amsterdam and bussed to the 'gate area', which wasn't really near any gates at all.

This then put us over three hours late, which is the cut off time for EU compensation on a short-haul flight.

Our claim then depends on whether the law takes into account the actual landing time or the time we arrived at a gate after being transported from the cargo area. Can you help clarify this? K.B., via email

Departure boards at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, Netherlands. A couple missed a connecting flight to Copenhagen after their flight from Dusseldorf was delayed

George Nixon, This is Money, replies: There are two specific elements in your case which could potentially give you grounds for €250 compensation under EU law, but first of all let's recap how the rules work surrounding delayed flights.

Under EU Regulation 261, airlines may have to provide compensation if a short-haul flight - one travelling 1,500km or less - arrives at its destination more than three hours late, and the delay is the fault of the airline.

This is provided you are either departing from an EU airport, or arriving at an EU airport and an EU airline is operating your flight.

The three hour delay time is calculated using the time the flight arrives at its destination, rather than the time it takes off.

For example, if you were due to land in Amsterdam on a flight from Dusseldorf at 3pm local time, if the plane arrived later than 6pm you would have grounds for compensation.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the delay time is calculated not from the moment the plane touches down on the runway, but the time the plane arrives at the stand and when at least one door of the aircraft is open.

If you touched down at Schiphol airport two hours 55 minutes later than you should have done, but were taken off the plane three hours later than your supposed arrival time then you should be entitled to compensation.

Meanwhile, you might also be entitled to compensation based on separate guidelines relating to connecting flights, also under EU Rule 261.

Delay time for compensation claims is based on when at least one plane door opens, not when the aircraft touches down on the runway

According to the CAA, 'under EU law you may be entitled to compensation from your airline if you miss a connection, even if the initial delay was under three hours.'

This is provided you are booked on a 'through' ticket, or one ticket and one reservation. 

If you bought one ticket from Dusseldorf to Amsterdam and then another from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, you would have to rely on the compensation rules relating to single flights. 

If this the case and you have bought a 'through' ticket, the three hour delay time is calculated at your final destination, Copenhagen, rather than Amsterdam.  

The CAA states that the 'rules depend on how late you arrive at your final destination and what caused the delay'. 

This is governed by the same rules as other flight compensation, meaning if you arrived at your final destination more than three hours after you were supposed to and it is the fault of the airline, you should complain to the airline responsible for your first delayed flight, and you should be entitled to a €250 payout.

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