We flew Norse Atlantic from JFK to Oslo in June 2022 for less than $125 per person, an amazing price in a nice aircraft, but our flight was 5 hours and 40 minutes delayed. When there’s a delay of four hours or more on a flight of more than 3500 kilometers (ours was) either departing from the EU or arriving in the EU, passengers are entitled to a right of care including meals and refreshments free of charge under EU 261 (Article 6c). In Norway, airlines proactively offered meal vouchers when there was a delay long enough to warrant one, but when flights originate outside of the EU, airlines tend to skirt these rules.
Norse was definitely in violation of EU 261. When the flight took off, it was already 5 hours and 40 minutes after the scheduled departure time. I asked for a meal and was denied. A passenger in front of me asked for water and was denied.
Only after 5 hours are we entitled to a refund of our fare, but we landed 4 hours and 31 minutes late in Oslo, just shy of 5 hours. The pilot often makes up for lost time in the air, and airlines give themselves extra time when publishing arrival times, because it’s the delay in arrival that matters, not the delay in departure. The 600 euro penalty doesn’t apply unless there is a cancellation or denied boarding.
Norse also violated Article 14, their obligation to inform passengers of their rights. At check-in, Norse was supposed to post a clearly visible notice that says:
‘If you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least two hours, ask at the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and assistance’.
Norse did not do this, but EU 261 doesn’t provide monetary compensation for this violation.
EU 261 does give airlines an out for extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken, which include political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes. Our delay was caused by a software failure, not an extraordinary circumstance.
During our delay, we purchased some food at JFK, so I thought I’d see if I could get reimbursed. I’m not claiming much, but I’m curious if this process actually works.
Who to Contact
First, you have to email the airline, so I emailed Norse at firstname.lastname@example.org and CCed email@example.com (CAA of Norway’s email). Stick to the facts, keep it concise, and cite exact language from EU 261. Ask for cash compensation, not a voucher. Attach your original ticket, boarding pass, and any receipts.
Wait for a response or in the event of no response, 4 weeks. If you aren’t satisfied with the response, file a complaint with the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway.
A few weeks after filing our complaint, I received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org asking for documentation, specifically “A copy of receipts for any expenses incurred for which a refund is being claimed from the airline.”
I uploaded my documentation and my case went pending. About 3 months later, I received their decision, which was that Norse should reimburse me for my meals, but also noted that this was just a recommendation to the airline and they have no enforcement powers. Specifically, they wrote:
The complainant must contact the airline themselves, requesting that the recommendation made in the handling body’s decision should be implemented. If the airline/travel agency has not replied to this request within eight weeks, or they choose not to follow the recommendation, we kindly ask you to let us know.
The judgements made by The Air Passenger Complaint Handling Body are not legally binding and are subsequently not enforceable by law. If an airline/travel agency is not willing to follow the recommendation in the handling body’s decision, the handling body has no legal authority to use other sanctions than to inform the public on our web page Norsk ReiselivsForum, that the airline/travel agency will not accept our decision.
I forwarded this email and decision to Norse. They asked for receipts, which I provided, and then they asked for a Norwegian bank account number or IBAN and BIC. I gave them the latter info, and they said they would send it to their financial team for approval, but months went by and I didn’t receive any payment, so I had to email Norse and the CAA of Norway again. Norse wrote back that the transaction had failed, but they could send the money via PayPal. Much easier! I gave them my PayPal info and the money was in my account within a day.
So, my takeaways are – the process actually works (just be patient as it can take a long time), and ask if PayPal is an option!