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.