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Short story: we went to Peru on vacation with my wife (2 persons)

  • we bought our tickets at AirFrance
  • outbound flights (Budapest-Paris-Lima) operated by AirFrance were ok
  • return flights were messed up because of an overbooking by Copa Airlines
  • we arrived at 22:55 instead of 16:20
  • we had had booked seats in the value of c.a. 90 Eur in the missed transatlantic flight, which we did not get in the new flight

Longer story:

The return flights would have been:

  • Lima-Panama City (operated by Copa Airlines)
  • Panama City-Amsterdam-Budapest (operated by KLM)

We were offered a new flight at the check-in in Lima, which we declined because too late arrival in Budapest. At the boarding we were halted at the gate and were not allowed on the plane anymore (involuntary denied boarding). They took the boarding passes, but we kept the luggage stickers. We waited c.a. 4 hours without information, then we got the new stickers and were escorted to a KLM gate, where we could claim our new boarding passes after another 1 hour. We were not asked, whether the new travel arrangement would be ok for us. We did not get food or drink, had to buy ourselves. The actual return itinerary was:

  • 6h wait Lima
  • Lima - Amsterdam by KLM
  • 6h wait Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam - Budapest by KLM
  • arrival in Budapest at 22:55
  • a relative gave us a lift home (>1.5h drive), because this late there is no public transportation to where we live

Source of my confusion: I have read this site and this site, but I can not decide whether it applies to our case, because the flight was not within the EU and the problematic flight was not into or out of EU. But we booked the flight through AirFrance and our final destination was in the EU.

Questions: Do these EU regulations apply in this case to Copa Airlines? Do I have a valid claim to any of the above airlines? If yes, according to which regulations? How much could we reasonably expect/request (is it regulated somehow)?

(Extra, not necessary a law topic, would moneysavingexpert or refund.me be able to help in this case?)


Edit: I just noticed, that there are no flight numbers in the text:

  • KL3025 LIM-PTY, operated by Copa Airlines
  • KL0758 PTY-AMS, operated by KLM
  • KL1977 AMS-BUD, operated by KLM
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's better aked on travel.stackexchange.com – BlueDogRanch Jul 22 at 22:07
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    might be better there, but this question was allowed here too: law.stackexchange.com/questions/18575/… .I hoped to get a more qualified answer here – G. B. Jul 22 at 22:09
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    @BlueDogRanch no, this is most definitely law related - the question asked is whether EU261 applies in this case, and this is a very very difficult question. We do answer EU261 questions on Travel SE, but this is immensely more complex than the usual ones we get. This is a good question for Law. – user4210 Jul 22 at 22:10
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    You have hit an interesting EU261 scenario thats for sure, and my gut feel is that KLM would be on the hook as the final operating airline and EU261 compensation rules are based on delays at your final destination. Copa is out, as they are a non-EU airline in any case (EU261 only applies to non-EU airlines when they are departing the EU). I'd have to do some research (which I unfortunately dont have time for right now) but my gut feel here is KLM is on the hook as they are an EU airline flying you into the EU and you had a delay at the final destination. – user4210 Jul 22 at 22:13
  • It was underhanded to take your boarding passes from you. Who did that, if you recall? Copa? You don't say whether you presented yourself on time for check-in for your original flight in Lima. I'm guessing you did, and the luggage stickers support that. Where am I (in)correct? – Matthew Elvey Jul 31 at 5:44
1
+50

Your .eu link says,

If you were denied boarding, your flight was cancelled, you experienced a delay of more than 2 hours at departure or you arrive with a long delay at your final destination, the airline must give you a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance.

My understanding regarding each of those 4 issues is that:
(You were NOT denied boarding of a covered flight.
Your flight was NOT cancelled.)
Arguably you experienced a delay of more than 2 hours at departure.
You DID take a covered flight (Lima - Amsterdam on KLM) that arguably arrived with a long delay at your final destination. The return flights that KLM ran that you actually took were (I presume) themselves on time with respect to their scheduled departure and arrival times. But you were very delayed; you experienced a delay. (> 6hrs late to Budapest)

So, the airline was required to give you a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance.

The .eu site continues (if you interact with it accordingly):

Connecting flight – one reservation with a single check-in

If you are denied boarding because the airline operating the connecting flight deemed that you would arrive too late to board this flight (as your first flight was delayed) compensation is due.

A key question is whether you, "presented yourself on time for check-in with a valid flight reservation."

You don't say whether you presented yourself on time for check-in for your original flight in Lima. You did, right?
If you didn't, I think no compensation is due.

So: Questions: Do these EU regulations apply in this case to Copa Airlines? No.
Do I have a valid claim to any of the above airlines? If you do, it'll be with KLM, per EU261. I think you can reasonably request 600 EUR per person + the 90 EUR and more for expenses you can document (e.g. airport food).

I think the blame for the delay falls squarely on Copa's shoulders, but the EU regulations don't apply to Copa / the Copa leg, even though it was booked via Air France. KLM seems to have done their reasonable best to resolve the problem. So it would be odd if the regulations made KLM liable even though Copa is to blame. EU regulations are rarely written or interpreted oddly like that, but you have a chance.

If I were you, I'd look at and consider submitting the EU air passenger rights form[119 KB]: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/themes/passengers/air/doc/complain_form/eu_complaint_form_en.pdf. If I filed, I'd take whatever KLM offered, and if offered nothing, I'd drop it at that point rather than pursue further dispute resolution. Hope this is helpful. I don't know how generous KLM tends to be; I wouldn't expect KLM to offer more than it thinks you are due, which I think it would decide is O, but it's certainly possible. For example, I've noticed Apple does this (offer more than it thinks a consumer is due) and it generates strong brand loyalty and goodwill.

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    Thanks, we were there on time. I asked the copa employees for a written document, they told me to go to their homepage. – G. B. Jul 31 at 11:06
  • I meant KLM, when I said: “So, the airline was required to give you a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance.“ (Also, The notice has to be given to you, Not merely made available; The regulations are specific about that. So being directed to a website doesn’t fly. ) – Matthew Elvey Aug 3 at 21:49

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