EU261 delay

Old Jun 13, 18, 3:38 pm
  #1  
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EU261 delay

So we were on the inaugural from GOA to ATH with a connection in 40 minutes (arriving at 21:00, next flight at 21:40) on the same day. But the flight from GOA was delayed. The pilot said, in one sentence within one announcement, after boarding has been completed, that because the flight started boarding late, we have missed our take off slot (even though there was only one other flight departing within the next hour), and, that there appears to be a thunderstorm en route and so, we would be delayed by roughly 30 minutes.

We took off 30 minutes after the STD. During the flight itself, there was no turbulence and the pilot also said explicitly that the route had great weather and would be a smooth journey. Thus, I am not sure whether it was indeed weather that delayed our departure at GOA. We made it to ATH at around 21:30 and so could not make the next flight at 21:40. An A3 representative was at the gate and was very friendly and gave us our boarding passes for the first flight the next day.

A3 was proactive in providing us overnight accommodation and putting us on the next flight, but I want to ask if EU261 applies here with regards to delay compensation. We would be arriving 12 hours after STA because of a missed connection. It seems that whether EU261 applies or not depends on the cause for the delay of the first flight from GOA, and I am unsure whether this would be considered extraordinary circumstances or not, since it does not seem that weather was an issue?

Any help/thoughts appreciated.
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Old Jun 13, 18, 9:02 pm
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What you describe sounds like an ATC-related delay; the weather problem may actually have been hundreds of miles ahead. Actually, the flight arrived at GOA 5 minutes after its STA, and left for home 48 minutes late arriving in ATH with a delay of 34 minutes. At any rate, the MCT for ATH is 40 minutes and when booking a connection of the kind, especially for late evening flights, one has to consider that even a small delay like in your case, will lead to misconnects.

Given the captain's announcement I am certain that A3, like most, if not al,l airlines, will claim that it was not their fault and they'll be most probably correct. You can submit your data online (flight #, date, etc.) to one of the compensation collecting firms. As these are paid by a percentage of the amount awarded, they check before accepting to do it and let you know whether you have any chance. Try that to see whether you do have any chance.
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Old Jun 14, 18, 2:01 am
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If you are not sure for the reason of the delay (it seems ATC, not necessarily related to GOA departure, might be enroute), I suggest you follow the procedure in these cases:

* Submit your claim to the airline and they will get back to you. If they refuse EU261 compensation they will tell you the reason.
* As another step (i/o the online compensation firms), you can also submit a complaint with the relevant authorities (Italian and Greek) since they can investigate and fine the company if found not following the regulation. In that case the airline will most likely get back to you with the compensation since the fines are much higher.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 14, 18, 4:58 am
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Originally Posted by jerry_greece View Post
...[snip]...* Submit your claim to the airline and they will get back to you. If they refuse EU261 compensation they will tell you the reason.
Airlines usually answer that the delay was related to weather/strike/whatever excuse and that they're excempt from paying according to the regulation...
* As another step (i/o the online compensation firms), you can also submit a complaint with the relevant authorities (Italian and Greek) since they can investigate and fine the company if found not following the regulation. In that case the airline will most likely get back to you with the compensation since the fines are much higher.!
Having lived in those two countries for an extended period of my life, I think that expecting a meaningful answer from them will be a highly traumatic experience that may even require professional help by a psychiatrist.

As there is no statute of limitations coming up, the query through a payback agency gives the immediate answer of whether there are any chances for compensation, and in the case of a positive answer OP can file with A3 armed with arguments in case they refuse!
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Old Jun 14, 18, 5:08 am
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To me, it sounds like A3 handled this well. Proactively rebooking the OP and voluntarily complying with the ED261 duty of care obligations is much better than I expected when I started to read the OP. Of course it was inconvenient but weather and ATC delays happen, and tight evening connections are always a risk, with being stranded overnight a potential outcome.
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Old Jun 14, 18, 5:45 am
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Originally Posted by hkgg View Post
The pilot said, in one sentence within one announcement, after boarding has been completed, that because the flight started boarding late, we have missed our take off slot (even though there was only one other flight departing within the next hour), and, that there appears to be a thunderstorm en route and so, we would be delayed by roughly 30 minutes.
This is the paragraph that undoes everything. You have both an ATC delay and weather en-route. That's two reasons for citing extraordinary circumstances.

The flight may well have been smooth - that's probably because the plane was routed round, over or under the storm. That, in itself, causes more congested airspace because there are certain flight paths or altitudes that can't then be utilised, so ATC will slow the flow rates through the affected areas.

That, in turn, impacts on when you can take off - so the weather at origin and the number of flights going out are not relevant. No pilot will take off, reach the handover point to the next ATC, only to be refused access to the airspace and have to fly around in circles for the next 20 minutes!

Based on everything we see here, there is no delay compensation claim and A3 has already discharged its responsibilities on Duty of Care.
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Old Jun 14, 18, 12:56 pm
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Originally Posted by KLouis View Post
Airlines usually answer that the delay was related to weather/strike/whatever excuse and that they're excempt from paying according to the regulation...

Having lived in those two countries for an extended period of my life, I think that expecting a meaningful answer from them will be a highly traumatic experience that may even require professional help by a psychiatrist.
Well, I have a positive experience recently with a Western CAA that apparently fined the (non-EU based) airline and one day later the airline replied to me and offered me the compensation. If I hadn't submitted the complaint, I would never get that.

On a related note, please do take into account that when the plane is delayed (because baggage was still loading, etc,) and they lose the CTOT (meaning that yes the ATC issues a new slot), then it's not extra-ordinary circumstances. So, ATC delay is to be treated with skepticism when airlines cite it. In any case, submitting a claim with the CAA of the country in question might take you one step closer (or not, but nothing to lose).
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Old Jun 30, 18, 3:32 am
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Hmmmm, could you clarify on missing the CTOT as an extraordinary (or not?) circumstance? So I recall that the pilot made an announcement after boarding was completed that we missed our departure time and so we will be issued a new departure time. However, I do not think the pilot did explained explicitly the reasons for the delayed departure, but presumably it is because of a number of reasons: (1) the delayed arrival of the aircraft, (2) there was only 45 min turnaround time for the aircraft after arrival, and (3) the general tardiness of the boarding process. Does this mean that it is no longer an extraordinary circumstance?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 30, 18, 4:22 am
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There are several critical timings here, and you are going to have to be very precise when writing to A3 to form a claim here - more so than the information in this thread so far.

You’ve said the plane eventually arrived at ATH at ‘about 9.30’. The criteria is first door open time, but with timings so tight you need to get this down to the minute, preferably with evidence (for the future, a video of your phone showing the time as the door opens is useful).

We know from other posts that the arrival time was at least 34 minutes delayed, maybe more by the time the door opened. But, let’s assume for the moment you were 34 minutes late because that’s the best information we have.

You then need to determine how much of this delay was due to things within A3’s control - such as loading the passengers on time or off loading luggage, neither of which are extraordinary or out of the airline’s control - with those that aren’t, such as ATC or weather.

In establishing those timings, again extraneous notes are useful. What time was boarding supposed to commence and when did it actually commence?

How long did you sit on the ground from an announcement that boarding was complete and pushing back? That’s the extent of the ATC/weather delay, and extraordinary.

If the latter delay was less than 34 minutes then A3 would have arrived below MCT anyway and will be liable for EC261 delay compensation. If it was 34 minutes or more then they are off the hook.

Your problem, as I’ve said, is your recollection and evidence are weak. If it goes to court, whilst technically it’s down to the airline to provide a defence and the legislation is supposed to favour the passenger, it will not look good if you can’t provide more accurate timings when you’re looking at such a borderline case.

Last edited by NWIFlyer; Jun 30, 18 at 4:28 am
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Old Jun 30, 18, 9:27 am
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Right, thanks for the explanation, NWIFlyer. So I went through my text messages and my photos to find the time stamps and compiled a timeline (all local times) below:

17:15 boarding should have began (time stated on BP), but nothing was moving
17:37 waiting in queue at gate
17:43 boarding began a little before this, as at this point, I was already on the tarmac walking towards the plane
17:55 I got in seat
18:12 pilot welcomed us onboard and announced delay
18:30 take off
21:34 land
21:36 just pulled into gate (but door hasn't opened yet)
21:49 got new BP from gate staff

Please correct me if I'm wrong:
The plane door would have opened sometime between 21:36 and 21:49, let's say 21:40. So the total delay would be 40 minutes.
The pilot made the welcome announcement at 18:12 and announced after talking to ATC that we missed our takeoff slot and that we would be delayed. So is it correct to assume that this is the time after which the delay is outside of A3's control? I.e. the amount of time delayed outside of A3's control = 18 minutes (time between 18:12 and 18:30).

So is it correct to say that since the total time delayed outside of A3's control (18 min) < total time delayed (40 min), this is not a case of extraordinary circumstances?
Even if we assume that the plane was allowed to take off right after boarding was completed (assume this to be 5 minutes after I sat down in my seat as we would still have to go through safety briefing, so this would be at 18:00), we would have arrived at 21:06 (given that the time needed between take off and arriving at the gate is 2 hours 6 minutes), we would already have technically missed the 40 min MCT at ATH already.

Am I misunderstanding/miscalculating something or coming to the wrong conclusion?
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Old Jun 30, 18, 10:02 am
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Okay, this is much better.

What we really need is the pushback time if you have it. The block time for the flight includes taxi at both ends (I.e. is gate-to-gate). That would tell us (assuming the taxi time was normal, and having not flown from Genoa for 25 years I’ve no idea what it is!) what the maximum ATC delay was. Best care scenario is probably a 5 minute taxi, so that puts the ATC delay at 13 minutes.

If you were on stand at 9.36 that probably means the doors opened at 9.37 at the absolute earliest, so your arrival time backing out the ATC delay was 9.24 - well below the MCT, and clearly no chance of catching a flight at 9.40. Even if A3 try and claim the incoming flight was delayed by weather, we know it was only a few minutes late so that would not make enough difference.

Write to A3 setting these timings out and you should be eligible under EC261. The destination of your next flight, which presumably you didn’t arrive at until the following morning, will determine the level of compensation.
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Old Jun 30, 18, 10:49 am
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Thanks for the quick response!

I texted a friend saying we were moving at 18:29 and switched to airplane mode after that, so am I correct to say that pushback time was at 18:29? We were at the end of the runway at 18:32 (I took a photo then). Assuming, as you did, that the doors opened at ATH at 21:37, then the block time would be 2 hours 08 minutes, correct?

So if we pushbacked right after boarding at the time when the pilot welcomed us onboard at 18:12, then the doors would have opened at ATH at 21:20, well under the 40 min MCT necessary for our next flight at 21:40.

On a related note, even if the incoming flight was delayed by weather, am I correct in saying that this is irrelevant because whatever reason for the delay of the incoming flight is largely irrelevant on the actual flight under consideration as per Frederique Jager v easyJet, 2013?

Thanks for all your help!
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Old Jun 30, 18, 11:04 am
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I’m by no means an expert on EC261, but I think you will struggle to tie Jager v EasyJet into this. That was a non-binding County Court judgement, but in any case the decision was reached because EasyJet claimed weather on an entirely unrelated flight between different cities which was then out of position. The judge, unsurprisingly, found that EasyJet had not made all reasonable efforts to recover the situation given their size and the amount of aircraft likely to be available at their focus airports. It’s a little used but powerful clause in the legislation.

In this case A3 would have been operating a back-to-back service Athens-Genoa-Athens, so they would be able to claim weather delay (but not mechanical) if the incoming plane was delayed by the same weather issues that affected your flight.
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