This winter, we went back to our beloved Canada for some family holidays.
We had a wonderful time. We liked the snowy period. We celebrated the New Year Eve with our loved ones. We had fun with kids on the Ski-Doo trails. We enjoyed crazy negative temperatures on our dog sled.
Everything went very well.
Everything, but one…
What happens when you’re (too?) frugal with plane tickets
As any good Mustachian traveler, I scanned airlines websites through various comparators such as Kayak and Liligo.
We found a flight at CHF 515 per person — quite a decent price to make it from Europe to North America.
The only drawback was the return flight with its two stops.
When we ended our holidays, the head full of memories, we got onto the first internal flight. All fine. Then we took the second (night) flight to cross the Atlantic Ocean back to Europe.
That’s when it started to suck…
We got informed by the pilot-in-command that we might have some delay due to baggage loading.
A dozens of minutes later, he said the delay was indefinite as it seemed that a baggage trunk’s spare part was broken, and it had to be fixed before we took off.
The wait lasted more than one hour and a half.
Thankfully, the entertainment systems worked during this timeframe… so kids enjoyed this “problem”, as it meant more time to watch cartoons!
We landed in Europe twenty minutes before our last connecting flight. In a wishful thinking mode, I told MP family that if we ran through the airport, we’d surely manage to make it on time.
We got out of the plane on gate A. Our next departure gate was Z…
We did run. We did arrive two minutes before official departure. We did see our plane. I mean, we did see it take off…
At least we did our sport training!
Lufthansa (our flight company) managed to find us another flight in the afternoon, and offered four coupons of 7.5€ each for us to have a snack.
Still, we would arrive with more than three hours late. Kind of important when your buffer between end of holidays and school start is tight…
We eventually reached home, a bit tired, but all was fine. You may think — rightly — that one can’t always save on costs and have all the benefits.
Frugality always win!
While we waited for our replacement flight, I quickly googled about late flight compensation.
I didn’t expect much. But as with any problem in life, I always search for other people experiences as in 95% of the cases someone already went through the exact same situation as yours.
I found many websites claiming that I could get back a few hundreds euros by just filling one form on their platform, and that they’d manage all the legal process.
The only fee they took was 25% of what I’d get reimbursed. If nothing was compensated, I didn’t have to pay anything to them.
I filled the estimation form of one of these website and got a rough indemnity value of 200 to 300 euros.
I was doubtful.
I investigated deeper about the legal basis they were referring to.
I stumbled upon this European law: “For any European flight, or any flight starting from or ending on a European airport and operated by a European company, with a delay that exceed 3h, customers have to be reimbursed: 250€ < 1'500kms, 400€ between 1'500kms and 3'500kms, and 600€ > 3'500kms. The compensation can be reduced by 50% if the company found a replacement flight and that you arrive at your final destination 2, 3, or 4h late at maximum.”
Then I finally found this form template to fill linked from a French government website (obviously way lower ranked on Google compared to the other profiteers’ services). You can find the same form in English on this website.
The week after our return, I sent the form via email to Lufthansa.
They replied within thirteen days by proposing a deal to which I could just say OK, and the money would be transferred right away.
The deal was 300 euros. Per flight. Meaning 1'200 euros in total!
I was astonished as that represented more than 60% of our flights total value of 1'930 euros!
“Time is money” as they say…
And you dear reader, do you have any tips on how to save money on flight tickets?