The 2016 race for the White House has certainly had its highs and lows. Grounded flights prohibited both candidates from hitting the necessary heights on the campaign trail.
Hitting as many swing states as possible is a 24/7 job, so the chances of air travel hiccups is high. Sure enough, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced numerous setbacks when flying cross-country to stump for votes. In some cases, inclement weather played a major factor. However, there were other cases when the reason for the disturbance would have made them eligible for compensation under the little-known law, EC261.
The European law is only applicable in EU member states and on EU-based carriers, but if the same law applied in the U.S., the candidates would collecting (or dishing out) some serious cash. Let’s take a look at four of their flights and how they would potentially rank for eligibility from low-to-high.
Eligibility potential: Low
Mike Pence skidding off the runway before hitting NY campaign trail
Vice presidential candidate Mike Pence was onboard a plane that skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Oct. 27. Forty eight people were onboard the Boeing 737-700 chartered from Eastern Airlines when it hydroplaned and fishtailed as it landed in the rain. It slid off the runway before screeching to a sharp halt in the grass off to the side. No one was injured.
“So thankful everyone on our plane is safe. Grateful for our first responders and the concern and prayers of so many. Back on the trail tomorrow!” Pence tweeted later that night.
The trip to New York had earlier been delayed due to inclement weather. Pence spent the downtime tossing a football with members of his staff and the press pool in Fort Dodge, Iowa, according to CNN. Unfortunately, the airline is not responsible for delays due to weather-related incidents. Therefore, even if this flight happened in Europe it would not be eligible under the law.
Then-First family members Hillary and Chelsea Clinton landing under fire
Twenty years ago in March 1996, Hillary and Chelsea were onboard a plane that landed under “sniper fire” at the Tuzla Air Force Base in Bosnia, according to the Washington Post. Although claims of snipers have been contested by various sources, Major General William Nash, the U.S. Commander leading the troops in Bosnia, substantiated that “security issues” were present that day.
The then-First Lady was traveling from Germany to Bosnia on C-17, which is a plane capable of steep ascents and descents. The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft developed for the U.S. Air Force. It is 174 feet long, has a cruising altitude of 28,000 feet and was designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment.
The aircraft was used for this flight in particular because it was landing in a combat zone. The Post also reported that Hillary and daughter, Chelsea, were moved into the armored cockpit for the descent because of “sniper fire in the hills surrounding the strip.”
This flight would not be eligible for compensation under the law for many reasons. It landed in circumstances beyond the airline’s control, which include weather-related incidents and terrorist attacks. There’s also no evidence the flight was previously delayed.
Eligibility potential: Moderate
Donald Trump and family stranded while out on campaign for “mechanical problems”
In July 2016, Trump and his family were grounded in Indianapolis, Indiana, this time due to mechanical problems. The unplanned disruption forced Trump and Gov. Mike Pence and their families to spend more time than planned together at the Governor’s Mansion. Pence reportedly took the opportunity to make an impassioned speech detailing his credentials for the vice presidential candidacy. It’s possible the grounded plane directly attributed to Pence’s name on the top ticket.
Mechanical issues are also the responsibility of the airline. Therefore, this grounded flight is also eligible under the law in certain circumstances. Learn more about the intricacies of the law on the Know Your Rights page.
Eligibility potential: High
Donald Trump’s expired registration on the campaign trail
An expired registration grounded Trump’s campaign jet, a 1997 Cessna 750 Citation X, in April 2016. Private jets must be re-registered every three years for a fee of $5, according to the FAA. Civil penalties for flying without a registration could reach $27,500; up to $250,000 for criminal fines and imprisonment for up to three years, according to the New York Times.
What’s more – if a jet isn’t properly registered, then the owner/operator is to blame. If the same problem occurred on a EU-based commercial flight arriving to or departing from an EU member state, then you would be eligible for compensation under the law.
Trump’s registration had expired in January and the FAA had sent notices it was due to lapse to his limited liability company, DJT Operations CX. The problem was the final notice was sent to a company not under Trump’s ownership, National Registered Agents, according to the NYT. It’s possible he hadn’t received prior notices of its pending deadline.
Trump’s Cessna is an American long-range, medium-sized business jet aircraft that is currently the fastest civilian aircraft in the world, according to the manufacturer. It seats 12 passengers and two crew members, is 72-feet long and has a cruising altitude of 35,000 ft.
Bill Clinton’s engine failure two weeks after Hillary’s campaign announcement
A plane carrying former U.S. President Bill Clinton lost power in one of its engines, which forced an unplanned landing in rural Tanzania. The incident happened less than two weeks after Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president in April 2015. Bill was traveling in a de Havilland Canada turboprop Dash 7 to tour various charity sites founded by The Clinton Foundation in Africa.
The plane seats up to 40 passengers, has four engines and is meant to travel short distances – around 200 statute miles. If you were traveling on this plane then you could be eligible for compensation under certain circumstances. The airline is responsible for fleet maintenance, including engine upkeep, which means this is would be a strong case for cash back if the flight had been arriving into or departing out of an EU member state.
You don’t have to be a candidate for president to potentially get cash back for flights. Let AirHelp check to see if you could be eligible – the check takes two minutes or less.