Flight for compensation
MOST travellers know that sinking feeling as the airport tannoy announces their flight has been delayed, but at least you can claim compensation, can’t you?
Under EU rules airlines must compensate passengers if their flight is cancelled or heavily delayed, and they may also have to pay for meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation where necessary.
Compensation depends on the length of the delay and how far you were flying, and ranges from around £220 to a maximum £530
Unfortunately, too many airlines inflict further delays on passengers by dragging their feet when it comes to paying compensation. Airlines including TUI and easyJet have been accused of using stalling tactics to put off paying what is rightfully owed to passengers.
Tens of thousands have been affected by these methods, with airlines paying up only after court proceedings have been issued, flight delay law firm Bott and Co said.
Its data shows that passengers with TUI Airways, formerly Thomson Airways, were forced to go to court 70 per cent of the time, 45 per cent of the time with easyJet and 44 per cent with Virgin Atlantic.
Bott and Co even found that in some cases, airlines were defending claims after others on the same flight had been paid. Flight delay solicitor Coby Benson said passengers should not be expected to go to court to get compensation: “We understand airlines need to look at claims on an individual basis. However we are seeing them routinely defend claims for eligible flights,” he said.
Airlines such as Jet2, Thomas Cook and British Airways were far better, with only one in 10 cases going to court. Benson said: “It is unfair for airlines to fight claims in the hope that passengers will just give up.”
In many cases airlines falsely claimed that a delay was due to circumstances beyond their control, when this was not the case.
ACTS OF GOD
TUI UK said it was sorry to hear that some customers faced delays and added it continually reviewed its claims processes. Meanwhile, easyJet said the carrier takes its responsibilities seriously and wanted to make it as easy as possible for passengers to claim. A spokesman said: “The majority of passenger claims are resolved directly with us, without any need to involve the courts.” Emma Coulthurst, consumer advocate at TravelSupermarket.com, said if your flight is delayed, ask for a clear explanation of the reason and write down all the relevant details, so you do not forget key facts.
Your airline should show you how to claim on its website, if by post or online. She said: “Provide as much evidence as you can, including flight numbers, booking references and copies of receipts, where relevant.”
Airlines can refuse compensation if the delay or cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances, which might include volcanic eruptions, thunderstorms, hurricanes or other extreme weather.
However, many have abused this and if you are not convinced contact the relevant dispute body, whose details should be on your carrier’s website. She said: “If it has not signed up to one, the Civil Aviation Authority may help.”
Coulthurst said airlines routinely drag their feet: “My concern is that too many eligible claimants give up and do not get the compensation they are due.” She called for tighter regulation forcing airlines to explain why flights were delayed and what compensation is payable: “Claims processes should be made easier and the Government should legislate for a new ombudsman that all airlines are required to join.”
She also warned against using a flight delay claims lawyers to get compensation: “These tend to operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, but can take up to 30 per cent of any compensation you get.”
There are plenty of free template letters you can use online, and you have six years to make a claim. Do not get mad next time your flight is delayed or cancelled, but keep calm, find out your rights and get compensation.
TAKE OFF: Apply for a payout if delayed