When it comes to actually honoring EU261/2004 obligations, it seems that most airlines will initially stonewall you, hoping that you will just give up. In the case of SWISS, a sharply-worded letter to the CEO did the trick.
A friend of mine was traveling with his wife and brother on SWISS from Rome to Los Angeles via Zurich last August. His flight from Zurich to Los Angeles encountered a four-hour mechanical delay.
He asked me to draft him a letter. Knowing that SWISS would almost assuredly initially deny the claim, I just drafted a short note:
I am writing on behalf of three passengers to request EU261/2004 compensation for a flight delay from Zurich to Los Angeles on LX40 on 27 August 2018. Our fight was delayed over 4.5 hours and we arrived into Los Angeles four hours late. Under EU261/2004, that entitles each of us to 600EUR in compensation.
[Passenger 1] – [Ticket number + PNR]
[Passenger 2] – [Ticket number + PNR]
[Passenger 3] – [Ticket number + PNR]
For your convenience, I have included banking info below. Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.
Unsurprisingly, Swiss responded with a denial of compensation, citing “extraordinary circumstances” for the delay:
Many thanks for having taken the time to share your experience. Your case has been assigned to me for handling and I am hence contacting you.
Your flight LX40 on 27 August 2018 from Zurich to Los Angeles was delayed. I would like to apologise for the inconvenience this caused you.
The Integrated Drive Generator system needed to be replaced. Safety has the utmost priority at SWISS. However, it is an unavoidable fact that flight safety shortcomings occur at short notice, and this cannot always be prevented. In view of the origin of this irregularity, no compensation is foreseen by current regulation.
You are nevertheless fully entitled to expect care and assistance for meal, refreshments and phone expenses. Thus, if additional costs have been incurred, please send me the different receipts or bills you are in possession if available in order to look into this matter and check what can be reimbursed to you.
I hope that you can understand that I am unable to comply with your wishes in this matter.
After my recent back-and-forth with Lufthansa, I went for the jugular in my response back:
I am in receipt of your letter provisionally denying EU261/2004 compensation for the delay on my flight LX40 on 27 August 2018.
Your reason for for denying the compensation is not only unlawful, but unethical. Under well-established legal precedent, compensation is due and our flight delay does not in any way approximate an “extradorinaiy circumstance” that would obviate compensation. Simple delays for safety are not exempt from compensation requirements.
Please remit the 1800EUR to my account immediately. We will not go back and forth on this. A failure to remit funds by Friday, 14 December will result in a legal filing. This will only end up costing you more, so please do the right thing and provide the compensation I am entitled to for your delay
That letter seemed do the trick. Swiss backed down, agreeing to pay out the compensation:
Thank you for your reply.
Your arguments have been carefully considered, thus after review of your file, I am pleased to inform you that the amount of USD 2 030.00 (EUR 1 800.00) will be credited onto your bank account within the next 15 days.
It would be our pleasure to welcome you on board again soon to regain your confidence.
The money hit my friend’s bank account a few days later.
As with so many ticketing issues, a threat of legal action alone is often enough to extract a clear and convincing victory. While airlines like SWISS will try to wear you down and hope you will give up, if you keep at it and the law is on your side, you will eventually prevail. Restitution cannot just be ignored because an airline or loyalty program believes it can get away with taking advantage of you. But you must fight the good fight, even if it takes months.
Consider this the final update on the matter.
> Read More: EU261 Delay Compensation: I Won, Lufthansa Lost