We loved every second of our honeymoon in Iceland, except for the last 12 hours and we ended up filing a lawsuit over it. A honeymoon so bad we sued? Not even a little bit, but it was a nice bonus!
We wanted to explore the Icelandic wilderness and navigate with maps instead of GPS. Which all worked out surprisingly well until the last day of our trip. Without phones or internet, we woke up early, rushed to the airport, and returned our rental car only to discover our flight was delayed.
How long of a delay? Airline staff had no idea. The flight coming from NY had turned around because of safety issues, but until the plane was on the ground, they had no idea when or even if the plane would be able to fly. If we checked in and went through security, we would be trapped in the airport for however long it took. Or we could pay to take a bus into Reykjavik but would have no idea when to come back.
We opted to tuck in and wait. It ended up being over 12 hours sitting in the airport. We window-shopped, ate bacon banana pizza with our airline vouchers, drank too much alcohol, and used a lot of free internet to stream TV shows. But overall, it was pretty miserable. It was a sucky end to a perfect honeymoon, but what did it matter? An airline delay is non-negotiable. We certainly didn’t want to be like the other passengers screaming at the airline staff, so we quietly resigned ourselves to a long, boring wait. Luckily, I knew a trick the airlines don’t want you to know about–you can sue them!
As with most industries, European airline companies are beholden to strong customer protection regulations. If your flight is cancelled, delayed for more than 3 hours, overbooked, etc, you might be eligible to sue for up to 600 euros. This depends on the carrier, the flight length, the location of departure/arrival, and many other factors.
I don’t have the time, or energy to figure out how to sue an airline. Luckily, there are easy online services that will do it for you with no upfront cost. They get paid when you do by taking a portion of your award settlement. We chose Refund.me, which is based in Germany, but there are a variety of other options.
The process is super easy. You fill out an online web form with all the details and upload a picture of your boarding pass. Once your case is accepted, you need to print, sign, scan, and send back Power of Attorney forms. Once they have this document, they can move forward on your case. The process time varies, but for us it was 9 months.
I did the eligibility quiz in September of 2014 and submitted our case. We delayed sending our Power of Attorney until April 2015. Word came back in early December 2015 that our claim was successful and the money was in our PayPal accounts before Christmas. Overall, it was worth it for free money and almost no work.
Because both our flight distance and delay were so long, we were awarded €600 each. After Refund.me’s fees, we got back €421.50 cash each–about US$930! This was great considering we paid £1,178.62 (~US$2,000) for the tickets originally. That amounts to a 46% discount on our tickets and our flight home was essentially free.