EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY EX­CUSES

Business Traveller - - INBOX - Ja­son D’Su­vio, Lon­don

I trav­elled Fin­nair in busi­ness class from Lon­don Heathrow to Tallinn via Helsinki in May. My first leg from Heathrow was de­layed and I sub­se­quently missed my con­nec­tion in Helsinki.

I was re­booked on the next flight with an avail­able seat ar­riv­ing in Tallinn at 2105 – more than four hours af­ter my sched­uled ar­rival time. The fol­low­ing day, I sub­mit­ted my claim to Fin­nair for de­lay com­pen­sa­tion. I waited six weeks with no re­ply. I chased the claim and fi­nally re­ceived my re­sult to­day. Fin­nair has de­nied my claim as it says the de­lay was down to cir­cum­stances out­side its con­trol.

The cir­cum­stances “out­side its con­trol” amount to ev­ery­day sit­u­a­tions that air­lines ex­pe­ri­ence such as air traf­fic con­trol (ATC) de­lays and mi­nor tech­ni­cal is­sues. In fact, the Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity web­site (caa.co.uk) states that “or­di­nary tech­ni­cal prob­lems that cause flight dis­rup­tion, such as com­po­nent fail­ure or gen­eral wear and tear, should not be con­sid­ered ‘ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances’ and com­pen­sa­tion should be payable in th­ese cases”. As for us­ing the ATC ex­cuse – air­lines are well aware of th­ese is­sues so fac­tor in ex­tra “block time” to flights or turn­around times to mit­i­gate th­ese de­lays. They are nei­ther ex­tra­or­di­nary nor un­ex­pected.

Fin­nair de­clined my com­pen­sa­tion based on “air traf­fic con­trol – ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances”. What it did not tell me at the time, and what I have dis­cov­ered by track­ing the air­craft that op­er­ated my flight on­line, is that this “ATC de­lay” was not at­trib­uted to my flight nor the in­bound op­er­at­ing flight de­part­ing Helsinki. It ac­tu­ally oc­curred the day be­fore, in Hong Kong, which caused a knock-on ef­fect the fol­low­ing day. So I’m ex­tra miffed, as courts have ruled in many cases that air­lines can­not at­tribute ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances from a flight the day prior.

Af­ter a pleas­ant in-flight ex­pe­ri­ence, I am re­ally dis­ap­pointed with the post­flight cus­tomer care (or lack of). I will not fly Fin­nair again and I will pur­sue this through the small claims process.

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