How I Got a $900 Electronic Travel Certificate from United Airlines

There is a European Union (EU) law that could possibly affect you as a passenger that many Americans don’t know about. I’ve known about it for years but had never actually had an opportunity to put it to use. I guess that meant I had been lucky as I hadn’t had any cancelled or significantly delayed flights within Europe or from Europe to the United States. That changed on July 2. Here’s how I got a $900 electronic travel certificate from United Airlines.
How I Got a $900 Electronic Travel Certificate from United Airlines
According to Wikipedia, “the Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004is a regulation in EU law establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. It requires compensation of €250 to €600 depending on the flight distance for delays over of at least 3 hours, cancellations, or being denied boarding from overbooking. Delays shorter than 3 hours means no entitlement to any compensation of any kind even if the delay was classified as non-extraordinary. Airlines must provide refreshments and accommodation where appropriate. The Court of Justice of the European Union has interpreted passenger rights strictly, so that there are virtually no exceptions for airlines to evade their obligations for breach of contract.
How I Got a $900 Electronic Travel Certificate from United Airlines
My United Airlines flight from London Heathrow to Newark Airport was cancelled due to some type of maintenance issue on July 2. It was one of the last flights of the busy July 4 travel timeframe and I wasn’t able to be rebooked until the afternoon of July 3; which was quite the nuisance.
United put me up in the Intercontinental Hotel at Terminal 5 in Heathrow Airport and provided dinner and breakfast at the hotel as well. That was good of them and the hotel was fine.
Now I was aware of EU Regulation 261/2004 of course but I wasn’t sure how to actually apply for my compensation or what exactly it might be. So I went to Instagram Stories and asked my followers. Let’s just say I got well over 100 responses with instructions on how to do it. It was pretty awesome and showed the power of social media.
The advice varied from doing it myself directly through the airline via their website, calling or via social media. Another option was to use a company like AirHelp that would essentially apply for the compensation on your behalf taking a relatively significant cut of the money-something like $150.
I have always had a good track record of contacting the airlines via Twitter Direct Message. So that’s what I decided to try first. I sent the following private direct message to their @United Twitter account:

Hi, I had a flight cancelled from London to New York. Can you please send me a link to apply for my compensation with regards to  EU Regulation 261/2004 or EC 261? Thank you.


Within 20 minutes I was sent this link. I simply filled in the form and was sure to have my cancelled flight number, ticket number and flight date. Then I hit submit.
It was honestly that simple. Shortly thereafter I was contacted by a United customer care person who told me my query was received and would be reviewed.
Exactly two days later I got an email from the same United customer care person saying I was eligible for flight compensation under EU Regulation 261/200. I was given the option of choosing a $900 electronic travel certificate or 27,500 United miles. That was a no-brainer and I chose the $900. Two days later I had it in my inbox with my personal PIN number.
I honestly couldn’t believe how easy it was. It was a very simple and painless process. That’s how I got a $900 electronic travel certificate from United Airlines.

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