I wanted to call this to everyone's attention since on my recent trip back from Venice it happened to me. As a result (though it can hardly be called lucky considering the circumstances), I was luckier than almost all other passengers.
While the US has a new passenger bill of rights that has good and bad points (the bad point is that more flights are taxing back from runways before they get slammed with the 3 hour delay cost and cancelling the flight instead, the EU has always had a much more robust Passenger Bill of Rights which affects all flights, no matter the airline or destination that emanates from or is going to Europe.
While the EU is currently debating some changes to it, especially regarding the fines airlines have to pay you, you are expected to arrive at your destination without interruption or you are entitled to accommodations, meal vouchers, transportation between airports, and getting on a different airlines' flight if necessary. This happened to me on my return from Venice. The Delta flight from Venice got in just fine -- early in fact -- but then I landed in JFK where my horrors usually begin. And they did, trying to get the 30 min flight to Boston. I was put on an earlier flight that had been delayed twice because of weather, but still looked like it would make it out before my scheduled 8pm flight. Except that we sat on the runway for over 2 hours, bringing it close to 8pm. The pilots, for a small Delta connection partner, were quite candid saying that while weather in Boston had been an issue all day, there was more to it than that. They said they didn't know if they could get us out because they were running out of flight hours and would soon be grounded. Around 7:30 pm we taxied back to the gate. I went straight to the Skyclub. It would have been impossible to make the 8pm flight by then because I was in Terminal 2 and it left from Terminal 4. (BTW, for those of you who don't know, I hate JFK more than almost any transportation entity I can think of.)
The one and finally two attendants on duty were telling people they'd find lodgings for them at a discount (but which would cost them around $300 a night and result in two trips -- to the hotel and to LGA for the next flight the next day). People were getting really angry. Then the Skyclub woman got to me (as 8pm passed and that flight took off -- so much for the weather delay others were told). I told her I flew from Venice and was entitled to the EU Passenger Bill of Rights. She wrote this down about 3 times, and kept asking me exactly what it was called. She called various supervisors, all the while the crowd behind me getting more and more restive. Finally, she said loud enough for everyone to hear while on the phone "She's a valued customer." I thought I might get murdered in that instant, people were so angry. But it was my Platinum Elite Plus status as well as my knowledge of the EU PBR that got me a free hotel (pretty awful, smelling so much of clorox I thought someone must have been murdered in the room, but apparently the only one in the area because that was the week of all the worse storms, so anything just to sleep 3 hours). They also got me prepaid transportation from JFK to the hotel, a meal voucher (which I could only use the next morning since by then it was 10:30 and there was no hotel restaurant) and prepaid transport to LaGuardia at 3:30am for the 6am flight, where I used my voucher.
The key is it really helps to be elite status, but regardless, and certainly if you're flying to or from Europe, know your rights and demand them. If they deny you you could end up getting far more than I got because all I wanted was a place to collapse.
Hope this helps someone else!
Excellent information profchiara . Like you I've always found an higher end of elite status with airlines is a huge help when things start to head down the proverbial toilet. I can't even remember how many times I've had things work in our favor simply due to the elite status (yet it was Continental Airlines) back then, but even this new United took care of us last summer with a short connecting flight in Munich. A very good piece of information for some about to tie the knot and fly to Europe, right kharada46?
I can only dream of having elite status with an airline! That's something I've never achieved. However, American does allow you to purchase a higher level of service. For $275, you can purchase 5 Star Service at DFW for two! This includes a meet at the gate, escort to the Admirals Club, admission for two to the Admirals Club, and an agent will come get you just prior to boarding and escort you to the gate. They also do all the monitoring and proactive re-routing that higher level elites might enjoy. For me, it's as closes as I can get to high-level elite status treatment. Unfortunately, I can only afford it for one leg... Would love to get it on one more!
I joined Delta Skymiles when I was a college student in the 1970s and have almost never flown another airline (except other Skyteam members and Aegean). I would even fly extra flights that I didn't need to keep it. Combined with my Amex Delta Reserve Skymiles card, I get lounge access everywhere [the card's cost s $450, but that is only a bit more than you'd pay for an annual club membership], it gives me a leg up for upgrades (which I got on the way over to AMS-VCE a few weeks back), I get Priority Boarding, I was screened for TSA Pre-Check by Delta [they did all the work and it is now available for int'l flights], I get free checked luggage, though I don't use it, etc. I also always get at worst Economy Comfort on int'l flights for free. And when I'm not returning through JFK, the SkyClub attendants are usually really nice and helpful if there's a problem.
Definitely not the type of welcome back to the States that you would hope for. I was not aware that a passenger is able to invoke the EU PBR once back in the U. S. after an international flight. I will have to make a mental note of this and hope that I am never required to dredge it out of the deep recesses of my aging mind. Thanks for the heads up!
It's a rule that covers from getting you from (or to) your European city to (or from) your final destination. New York wasn't my final destination, but Boston, and Delta could not get me there. EU rules do apply to all carriers, not just European ones, as long as they either take off from or land in a European city.
I found this out about 2-3 years ago when I got stuck NINE times overnight at JFK. I didn't know my rights then and ended up paying everything myself until I was reading either FlyerTalk or InsideFlyer and learned of their far better treatment of passengers. Then of course I verified, and while the EU is currently considering making potential payments of fines to people whose flights are delayed (determined by length of time and distance), the accommodations/local transport/food is ironclad from what I've learned.
Hope you never need to use it, but as a frequent traveler to Europe, I sometimes do (esp. when going through JFK). If the problem originates somewhere in the EU (say I'm flying from Athens to AMS to BOS and get stuck in AMS -- though that rarely happens -- they know what to do).
Again, very useful information. Thank you for bringing it to the attention of the Marriott Insiders. I will be visiting Germany and Austria in early December and connecting through JFK. The information you provided on the EU PBR could help take the edge off of an extended delay at JFK.