Flight for com­pen­sa­tion

Sunday Express - - COMMENT - Har­vey Jones

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.

STALL SPEED

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.”

GET EVEN

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

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