A few years ago, whilst I was about to fly home from Zurich Airport, my flight was cancelled and moved to the next day.
I was able to claim compensation from the airline for the delay and wanted to share my story with you and offer advice to help those who might also happen to be in the same situation.
This blog post contains a walkthrough of my story, and I also share with you how I was able to make a claim.
A note before we get started
Before you read any further, I would like to mention that I am not a legal professional and my opinions remain my own.
This blog post is based on my own personal experience, and you should seek professional help when making a claim.
Personally, I received help from AirHelp, and I will explain how I went about this later on in the post.
Again, this is my personal story and I want to highlight many tips that I wish I knew when I was in this situation to help speed up the process.
Ok, now we have that cleared up – let’s continue with the blog post.
My flight cancellation
I was flying with a low-cost airline from Zurich Airport to London Gatwick.
It was the cheapest flight I could find to take me back home after attending a trade show called the Outdoor show in Germany. (The trade show had free shuttle buses to Zurich Airport, so this was an easy decision for me.)
The cheapest flight was in the evening, which worked out perfectly as I could enjoy one last day at the trade show and then head home.
I wasn’t aware of the night-time curfew that bans flights from departing out of Zurich Airport between 23:30 and 06:00 due to noise pollution.
This means that if the flight is late on arrival and the crew is unable turn the flight around in time, the aircraft will be grounded till the morning.
In this situation, there is simply nothing you can do but wait until the airport is open again in the morning and flights can start to depart.
These situations happen when you travel
Standing at the departure gate, I was ready to fly home, but I noticed that my flight ended up being delayed.
This was not good as that limited departure time was slowly not turning into a reality.
At this stage, I started to see seasoned travellers getting grumpy and then leaving the gate.
I was wondering if they knew something I didn’t whilst a bunch of confused looking passengers looked on.
My advice would be to take action immediately
The moment your flight has been confirmed as cancelled, you should take action immediately.
Time in this situation is everything.
Remember a whole flight full of people will now be looking for a hotel to stay for the night.
Think about this for a moment.
You could wait to complain to the member of staff at the departure gate, but what good would this do?
All they will tell you is that the flight has been confirmed as cancelled and you should wait for further instructions.
Calling the airline call centre will cost a premium whilst abroad, and if you’re in the same situation as me, it will be late, and the call centre might be closed.
Zurich Airport isn’t a major hub for budget airlines, which means there might not be any staff on hand, and this happened in my case.
Best to book your own hotel
Normally if the airport is a hub, they will have staff on hand at a desk to arrange food coupons and hotel bookings for cancelled flights.
For Zurich Airport and a particular budget airline, this was not the case.
You’re better off booking the hotel with your own money and claiming it back online later.
On top of this, Zurich, Switzerland just happens to be one of the most expensive cities in Europe to book a hotel.
With some advance planning, you can find deals, but late into the night on the day last minute with a whole flight of passengers looking for a place, you’re left with limited options.
If I had known about the cancellation ahead of time, I would have quickly booked a room at the Ibis Zürich Messe Airport, but by the time I arrived at the check-in desk, they informed me that the hotel had just got fully booked.
Before booking your hotel check if the airline allows this option first and also to what amount as some airlines have a limit on spending.
Normally the airline should have a claim page to upload your receipts to request a refund on cancelled flights.
As the airport hotels didn’t give me any options, I opted to grab the last train from the airport to the city and find a hotel close to the train station.
Again, my luck had run out. It was a Saturday, and almost everything was fully booked.
I found Ibis budget located around a 10-minute tram ride away, so I took the tram and tried my luck.
Luckily Ibis had had a few rooms available.
They had an Ibis city and an Ibis budget, and between the two I managed to find one of the last rooms for a whopping £120.
It was 01:20 am at this point, and I was in a room with a shower and could get some rest for the night.
In the morning, I could head back to Zurich Airport to sort out my return flight.
Yes, I could have not got the last train to the city and found a bench at the airport to sleep on for the night and save on the costs, but the airline has a responsibility to pay you back for the room.
It took some time to receive the repayment of the hotel, but I got it in the end.
Day Two: Returning in the morning
I want to mention that at this point, the airline said it would refund hotel and transport to the hotel.
However, my return train tickets from Zurich Airport to Zurich city were not refunded as it was not a point to point journey, so it’s best to take a taxi and keep the receipts.
I was using free Wi-Fi and the budget airline app for getting flight updates and cancellation details.
I got a notification that my flight was moved to the next day and that the check-in desk would be open 4 hours before the flight for questions and enquiries.
By using the app, I could get all my updates and there was no need to call the helpline.
Check if your airline has an app and keep checking your email inbox for updates from the airline.
I did choose to arrive back at Zurich airport 4 hours before my new flight to inquire about free food vouchers which you’re entitled to having if your flight is cancelled.
As no member of staff was around the previous night, I got two vouchers for breakfast and lunch that morning.
In Switzerland, these vouchers are much welcomed due to the high food and drink prices the country has.
I was able to get a meal at an airport restaurant and they accepted the vouchers with no fuss.
Luckily for me, this was the end of my brief visit to Zurich as the new scheduled flight took off on time with no concern about being grounded any longer.
We could make as much flight noise as we wanted around the city of Zurich, and I returned safely to London Gatwick Airport in the UK.
On my budget airline flight back, the crew apologised to us for the cancellation and let us order anything we wanted from the food cart for free as a goodwill gesture.
I think they did this to save having to hand out even more meal vouchers.
If your flight is cancelled, you could be protected
After arriving back in the UK, I heard about the EU law called Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004.
This entitles passengers to consumer protection if things go wrong, such as in the case of flight cancellation or delays.
Depending on your situation, you could apply for compensation.
As I was in Switzerland which isn’t part of the EU, I thought I wouldn’t be protected, but it turns out Switzerland is under bilateral agreements and the regulation does apply to it.
After having my flight cancelled in Switzerland by a budget airline, I found out that I was entitled to this compensation.
I did get an email from the airline offering a discounted flight voucher of £120 which I could use for a future flight as an apology for all the troubles.
I had indeed been put through some inconvenience and lost a day in total having to deal with everything.
When I emailed the airline about this, they replied by saying that the voucher should cover my time lost.
But the voucher wasn’t anywhere in the range that you could be compensated for.
Normally airlines sort out the compensation that you’re entitled to, but many passengers are not aware that you’re entitled to claim compensation, so passengers don’t bother going through the hassle to deal with it.
Why not seek advice from AirHelp and let them take care of it for you?
AirHelp worked well for my personal situation
For my Easyjet compensation claim, I used AirHelp to take care of all the hassle for me.
They offer a really easy and simple service to help you with your claim.
Simply sign up to AirHelp, and they will look into your individual situation to see if you have a case and then help assist you with your claim.
You don’t have to do anything but apply and let AirHelp take care of all the work for you.
This hassle-free process made the service work well for me.
Your claim may take some time, but they will do their best to make sure your claim is successful.
After being told I couldn’t make a claim directly from the budget airline, it was nice to have someone take care of this situation for me.
AirHelp does take a cut from the compensation to cover their own fee, but this was well worth it to ensure that I got a result and didn’t have to worry about the process.
After personal great success with AirHelp, I’m more than happy to recommend their services.
Thank you for reading my blog post about AirHelp
Thank you for spending your time reading my article. If you’re in a similar situation, I hope you can quickly resolve the issue and fly home safely.
I hope you have a better understanding of what you’re entitled to claim if your flight is delayed or cancelled and how to react in such a situation.
I enjoyed using AirHelp. I’m more than happy to recommend them and I hope that they work well for you too.
All the best and happy future travels.