Flight Delays: Should You Take Compensation Offered or Write In a Complaint Later?

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INSIDER SECRET: If you use the best travel insurance credit cards to book your travel, you can avoid having to rely on the airlines to compensate you fairly in certain situations because your credit card will have you covered.

I recently received a text from a friend who’d just been deplaned from her flight from Seattle to London. The truck that delivers the in-flight meals had struck the side of the airplane and the airline needed to make sure there hadn’t been any damage.

So there she was, sitting in the Seattle airport being told that it would be at least two hours before they got off the ground. She contacted me — her go-to travel expert — because they were offering everyone $15 meal vouchers to use at the airport during the delay. She wanted to know whether I thought she and her husband should take the voucher.

Faced with a flight delay? Make sure you know your options when it comes to asking for compensation from the airline. (Photo by Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock)

My first response was “Did you mean $150, not $15?” Clearly, I felt like $15 was a silly offer. She said it was, in fact, a $15 voucher they were offering every passenger. I advised her to hold out and submit a complaint online after the trip.

Turns out that was incredibly valuable advice, as they ended up being delayed for over five hours, and the airline ended up sending them each $675 in compensation for the delay. That’s $1,350 directly to their bank account!

I cannot guarantee that accepting the $15 voucher would have precluded her from getting the larger compensation amount. But when filing the claim, she did note that the form said only one claim can be made per ticket. She also remembered that the staff handing out the $15 food vouchers in the airport took down each passenger’s information.

Moral of the story? It might behoove you to wait until after the flight to ask for compensation.

Don’t forget, it’s also always wise to use one of the best travel insurance credit cards to book your airfare just in case things go awry. With a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your trip delay insurance kicks in after six hours. You can read about team member Joseph’s experience filing a complaint with Chase here.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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1 year ago

late February I booked a first class flight out of Miami to Vegas @9.45 pm in @11.45 pm… for a late October departure .
Last month realized that arrival would be too late and switch to a morning flight which made more sense and was charge an extra 40000 points on top of the 100000 I was first charge and didn’t argue, but was not very satisfied , but came to terms about it. Then last week they cancelled my morning flight and put me back on an evening flight which is the only non-stop to Vegas. After complaining they did reimburse my 40000 extra points which was charge , but this after asking the matter to be escalated to a suprrvisor .
Am I left here with no option but to accept this change ? All my hotels are booked and already paid for and need to leave that particular day.
Do I have some kind of a recourse ? thank you for all your chronicles who are so relevant to many of us.

1 year ago

You gave them good advice although the airline didn’t actually have any choice and their compensation was right on the nail, although I am surprised they paid so easiliy. There are fixed compensation amounts/consumer protections for exactly this kind of thing when flying in and out of the EU(Googe EU261).

Myself and 2 kids were delayed for 4+ on a LGW to LAX flight over a year ago. I thought nothing of it until someone allerted me to this. I duly did the research and found that I have 6 years to claim compensation from Norwegian. After making the claim on line the claim was denied due to “extraordinary circumstances – airport operations” (ie. BS). There are all sorts of law firms (solicitors) in the UK that make a living out of these claims. I retained Bott and Co who very quickly and very easily were able to get 3 x 600Euros for me, less a 25 % commision.

So – I suggest everyone racks their brains to see if you can remember any flight delays, of any nature in and out or within the EU over the past 6 years I recommend you contact Bott as the airlines almost always deny the claims first time around and the denial is almost always nonsense – EU261 is hard for the ailrines to get around. Pretty much the only thing that exempts them from having to pay compensation is documented ATC issues or airport shutdowns due to weather….

Steven M
Reply to  Robert
1 year ago

Beware future flights to/from UK. Boris Johnson is now prime minister and he insists on Brexit. Guess what? UK will wake up one day to find a lot of EU regulations that actually protected and helped them (like free mobile roaming across EU) don’t pertain to them anymore.