Flight Delay News

Airlines Criticise Flight Delay Compensation Report

October 23, 2015

Airlines companies have reacted angrily to a flight delay compensation report which ranked airlines on their handling of flight delay compensation claims.

The flight delay compensation report was compiled by Airhelp – a company that claims to help passengers recover compensation for delayed and cancelled flights in the past three years (most claims management companies are prepared to assist passengers with claims going back six years).

The report was compiled using five different elements – Quality Performance, Delay Performance, Claim Handling, Claim Turnaround and Payout Time – and ranked each airline according to the experienced of clients on whose behalf the company has pursued compensation.

The results were somewhat surprising to many industry observers, with Lufthansa appearing in the top three airlines in the flight delay compensation report, and EasyJet in the bottom three. Ryanair and Virgin Airlines also fared poorly in the flight delay compensation report, but Jet2.com were not included at all!

Airline companies came out fighting when details of the flight delay compensation report appeared in the Telegraph. A spokesperson for EasyJet defended the airline’s record, saying: “We do not believe the AirHelp ranking paints an accurate picture. EasyJet has been commended by the UK’s regulator, the CAA, for its handling of EU261 claims”.

A spokesperson for Virgin said: “Along with other airlines, we strongly question the validity of this flight delay compensation report. We do everything we can to respond as quickly as possible and on average pay all eligible EU261 claims between 14 and 28 days after receipt.” The spokesperson for Ryanair was a little less diplomatic in his response to the report. He said:

“We don’t comment on fake ‘surveys’ fabricated by compensation chasers to generate publicity and are amazed that newspapers publish them. The fact that over 90 per cent of our flights are on time and we receive the fewest complaints highlights how irrelevant this ‘survey’ is.”

Airline companies were not the only organizations to query the validity of the flight delay compensation report. Nathan Stower, Chief Executive of the British Air Transport Association (BATA) said he confidently predicted that the research would not be winning any statistical prizes because it was based on the supposed experiences of the company´s customers and was therefore “simply not representative or statistically robust”.

The concept of the flight delay compensation report was to give delayed passengers a picture of the level of service they could expect when making a claim for compensation. In our experience, claims for flight delay compensation are dealt with individually according to their merit. This would make any such report completely and utterly meaningless.

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Thomas Cook to Pay Compensation for a Flight Delay to Malta

October 1, 2015

Thomas Cook has said it will pay compensation for a flight delay to Malta after two planes were withdrawn from service due to technical faults.

Passengers intending to fly on the Thomas Cook service from Manchester to Malta yesterday experienced a twelve-hour delay due to not one, but two, planes developing technical faults and having to be withdrawn from service.

The incredible sequence of events started shortly after 7:00am, when passengers were already on board the early morning flight as its air-conditioning system “began to spark with flames”. Fire engines accompanied the plane back to the terminal, where the passengers were unloaded.

After a two-hour wait a second plane was organised, but that too developed a technical fault before it could take off and the passengers had to be unloaded once again. £10 food vouchers were distributed among the passengers, who were far from happy about the mis- communication from Thomas Cook.

William Nugent – one of the delayed passengers – told the Manchester Evening News that passengers had been given five different departure times and called to the gate on three occasions, only to be told to return to the departure lounge.

“We are very annoyed”, William told a reporter. “There a lot of us and we all feel fobbed off. They could have sent us home this morning to sort this out. We keep getting given new times and then nothing happens.” Fortunately for William and his fellow passengers, a replacement plane successfully departed from Manchester shortly after 7:00pm.

Thomas Cook has apologised for the inconvenience suffered by the passengers and said that it will pay compensation for a flight delay to Malta to the 180 passengers who experienced a delayed start to their holiday. A spokesman from Thomas Cook Airlines said: “We’re really sorry for the long delay to the start of our customers’ holidays. Such a protracted series of delays is extremely rare and very unfortunate and we will pay compensation to all customers affected.

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Couple Recover Compensation for a Flight Delay to Italy

September 23, 2015

A couple who were delayed taking off for a weekend in Verona have recovered compensation for a flight delay to Italy at the third attempt.

In 2012, Andrew and Justine Hinton-Lever had planned to escape from their high-pressure occupations in the chemical industry to take a weekend break in Verona. Unfortunately a technical issue delayed their departure by five hours, during which time they were given a voucher for a sandwich and a soft drink.

On their return, Justine claimed compensation for a flight delay to Italy from Monarch Airlines. The airline rejected her claim on the grounds that the technical issue that delayed the flight was an “extraordinary circumstance” that exempted the airline from paying compensation under EU regulation 261/2004.

Justine thought no more of it until she read about the Huzar v Jet2.com court case in which the Appeals Court ruled that technical issues should not be considered extraordinary circumstances because technical issues are inherent in the running of an aircraft. Justine again claimed compensation for a flight delay to Italy, but heard no more.

Several months later, Justine again wrote to Monarch Airlines claiming compensation for a flight delay to Italy, and this time received a cheque for £365 and an apology from the airline for an “inbox error” that meant her claim was not dealt with in good time.

A cynical person may feel that it was only due to Justine´s perseverance that she received her compensation for a flight delay to Italy. A spokesperson for Monarch Airlines said: “We have worked hard to resolve all outstanding compensation claims as quickly as possible”.

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Passenger Wins Claim for a Delayed Flight from France

September 21, 2015

A passenger, who was told that his late take-off was due to an air display by the French Red Arrows has won his claim for a delayed flight from France.

Last summer, Jim and Jannine Gillespie from Buxton in Derbyshire were returning to the UK from a holiday in Bergerac in the south of France, when they were delayed by six hours due to a technical fault on the Jet2 plane that was supposed to bring them home.

While they were waiting, they saw that a local air show was taking place featuring the Patrouille de France – the French equivalent of the Red Arrows – so, although they were disappointed about the delay, Jim and Jannine were kept entertained during the wait for a replacement aircraft to arrive.

However, when Jim made a claim for a delayed flight from France, Jet2 told him that the reason for the length of the delay was the air show rather than the technical fault; and, as the airline considered this to be an “exceptional circumstance”, it was not prepared to pay Jim and Jannine the compensation they thought they were due.

As the flight departed from France, Jim was unable to complain to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) about Jet2´s decision. Instead he took a chance on the standard of his language skills and complained to the French aviation regulator the Direction Generale de l´Aviation Civile (DGAC).

Several weeks later, Jim received a letter from Jet2 – this time containing a cheque for £360.00. There was no indication in the letter that the airline´s turnaround was prompted by the intervention of the DGAC, but Jim believes that was the case. Speaking about his claim for a delayed flight from France Jim said: “My French is passable so I thought I’d give it a go.”

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ECJ Delivers Verdict on Flight Delays due to Spontaneous Technical Problems

September 18, 2015

The European Court of Justice has delivered its verdict in Van der Lans v KLM, a case with implications for flight delays due to spontaneous technical problems.

In 2009, Corina Van der Lans was returning to the Netherlands from a holiday in Ecuador, when her flight was delayed by twenty-nine hours due to a “spontaneous” technical problem. When she returned to the Netherlands, Corina made a flight delay claim for compensation as she was entitled to do under EU 261/2004.

However, KLM rejected her claim on the grounds that flight delays due to spontaneous technical problems – rather than problems found during a regular pre-check flight – came under the category of exceptional circumstances, which exempted the airline from paying flight delay compensation.

Corina took her flight delay claim for compensation to her District Court in Amsterdam, who referred it to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. Yesterday, Europe´s top court disagreed with KLM´s interpretation of EU 261/2004 and ruled that technical problems – however and whenever they occur – are the responsibility of the airline.

The verdict of the European Court of Justice has significant implications for passengers making claims for flight delays due to spontaneous technical problems. Despite the 2014 verdict in Huzar v Jet2.com and a recent ruling by a District Judge in Liverpool that airlines should not withhold payment of flight delay compensation until the verdict in Van der Lans – KLM is known, many have continued to do so.

Now – with the highest court in Europe ruling that the verdict should be applied in all member states – airlines that have reject claims for flight delays due to spontaneous technical problems, or who have refused to pay their passengers the compensation they are entitled to, must adhere to the opinion of the European Court of Justice.

The backlog of compensation payments has been estimated at €400 million, but not only will the verdict of the European Court of Justice affect those who have unfairly been denied their right to flight delay compensation in the past, but it will also increase the volume of claims for flight delays due to spontaneous technical problems that airlines can expect to receive in the future.

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Passenger Recovers Compensation for a Flight Delay from Wizzair

September 10, 2015

A passenger has recovered compensation for a flight delay from Wizzair – even though the reason for the delay was out of the airline´s control.

Last October, Mark Latham – the deputy business editor of the Scottish Herald – was on a flight from Glasgow to Warsaw when thick fog descended over the Polish capital and his flight was diverted to Gdansk – 180 miles away.

Mark´s flight was not the only one to be affected by the weather conditions in Warsaw; but whereas many other airlines provided meal vouchers and overnight accommodation, Wizzair told passengers to wait outside the terminal (at midnight) where buses would take them on the rest of their journey.

After waiting for three hours, Mark gave up and booked himself into the airport hotel. The following morning he booked an internal flight from Gdansk to Warsaw and – on his return to Scotland – claimed compensation for a flight delay from Wizzair to account for the cost of his pre-booked accommodation in Warsaw, the cost of his overnight accommodation in Gdansk and his internal flight.

Rather than settle Mark´s claim for £202, Wizzair offered him £15 – the price of a train ticket from Gdansk to Warsaw. Mark complained to the CAA – who agreed that he had a viable claim for compensation for a flight delay from Wizzair – but the airline refused to pay up. The CAA then suggested that Mark should lodge a small claims summons with his Sheriff´s Court.

The summons for breach of contract did not prompt Wizzair to pay the compensation that Mark was due, but the day before the scheduled hearing, the airline decided to pay Mark the compensation he had requested plus his legal fees.

Wizzair is one of five airlines that were criticised by a Liverpool judge earlier this year for failing to attend to claims for compensation for a flight delay from Wizzair fairly. The airline has also been criticised by the CAA for the poor handling of passengers who are affected by flight disruptions.

If you have experienced poor service from Wizzair due to flight delay or cancellation – or, as in Mark´s case, for being in breach of contract – contact us today and discuss the circumstances of your poor Wizzair experience with one of our flight claims specialists.

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Judge Confirms Six-Year Time Limit for Flight Delay Claims

August 25, 2015

A judge at Manchester County Court has ruled that Ryanair´s attempts to impose a two-year time limit for flight delay claims is contrary to European law.

In 2008, Archana Goel and Diwakar Trivedi were delayed by ten hours on their Ryanair flight from Reus in Spain to London Stanstead. Five years and eight months after a technical fault on the Boeing 737 delayed the end of their holiday, the couple made a claim for flight delay compensation against Ryanair.

Ryanair rejected their claim for €250 each due to a clause in the airline´s ticketing policy which states: “Any right to damages and/or compensation shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within two years” – effectively imposing a two-year time limit for flight delay claims against the airline.

In theory, under EU law 261/2004 claimants can make a claim for flight delay compensation dating back to any cancelled or delayed flight from 2005. However in England and Wales it is only possible to take court action to recover compensation if the flight delay was within the past six years. In Scotland, the time limit for flight delay claims is five years.

Archana and Diwakar argued that the clause in Ryanair´s ticketing policy is contrary to European Law 261/2004 which states that airlines may not insert a “restrictive clause in the contract of carriage” to avoid the payment of flight delay compensation when it is due. They took their case to Manchester County Court, where Judge Platts found in their favour and instructed Ryanair to pay the compensation due.

Now faced with a potential liability of €5 million for the claims the airline has rejected in the past, Ryanair has said it will appeal the decision. However, when a similar ruling went against Thomson Airways last year, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal – ruling that the verdict of the lower court should stand with regard to the time limit for flight delay claims.

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Millions Unclaimed in Passenger Flight Delay Compensation

August 3, 2015

Two recent studies have independently revealed that millions of pounds is unclaimed in passenger flight delay compensation due to airlines failing to advise passengers of their rights.

Under Article 14 of the European legislation relating to passenger flight delay compensation (EU 261/1004), airlines have a legal obligation to advise passengers of their rights to compensation by providing each passenger with a written notice setting out the rules for assistance and compensation when a flight is delayed by more than two hours.

According to two independently conducted studies, it would appear that airlines are failing to adhere to their legal obligations – even when a flight delay may be due to a circumstance out of the airlines control and in scenarios when compensation would not be payable – to the detriment of their own customers.

The first of the two studies was conducted nationwide, and integrated figures from the Civil Aviation Authority showing that on-time performance in 2014 for all scheduled flights operating from the UK´s ten main airports fell to below 80 percent. Using these figures, and information relating to the causes of the delays, it was calculated that eleven million passengers are entitled to claim flight delay compensation each year.

However, according to researchers, only 2 percent of those entitled to claim passenger flight delay compensation actually do so. Several reasons were forwarded for the failure of passengers to claim the flight delay compensation they were entitled to, with the most common being that the passengers were not aware that they were entitled to compensation. The researchers claim that up to £665 million is unclaimed on passenger flight delay compensation each year.

The second of the studies focused on departures from Scotland´s two busiest airports – Edinburgh and Glasgow – during the peak summer getaway period between June and September. Records showed that more than 27,000 passengers experienced delays of two hours or more at the two airports due to avoidable delays, yet more than £15 million passenger flight delay compensation is still waiting to be claimed.

Passengers who have experienced a flight delay departing from any UK airport – or arriving at any UK destination on an EU-registered airline – can claim passenger flight delay compensation up to six years in arrears; and, if you are unsure of your rights to make a claim for compensation, please do not hesitate to contact our helpful claims team for free advice without any obligation to proceed with a claim for passenger flight delay compensation.

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CAA Data Reveals Most Flight Delay Complaints against Thomas Cook

July 27, 2015

Data from the Civil Aviation Authority shows that there were more flight delay complaints against Thomas Cook than any other airline in 2014.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) received more than twenty thousand complaints last year from passengers who were unfairly denied compensation for a late arriving flight, compensation for being denied boarding or compensation because their flight was cancelled at short notice.

According to the CAA´s data, there were more flight delay complaints against Thomas Cook than any other airline. 3,657 Thomas Cook passengers made complaints about being unfairly treated when claiming compensation – ahead of Thompson Airways (3,043 complaints) and British Airways (2,727 complaints) respectively.

Possibly more revealing was the number of complaints per million passengers that were received per airline. Again there were more flight delays complaints against Thomas Cook and Thomson Airways pro rata; but, using this scale, Monarch Airlines sailed into third spot, closely followed by Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic:

Airline Complaints

received in 2014

Complaints

per million customers

Thomas Cook Airlines 3,657 601
Thomson Airways 3,043 299
British Airways 2,727 67
easyJet 1,536 43
Monarch Airlines 1,326 189
Ryanair 981 32
Jet2 569 94
Virgin Atlantic 518 82

Significantly, what was not revealed in the CAA´s data was how many of the flight delay complaints against Thomas Cook – or any other airline – were upheld in the passenger´s favour, and how long the claims on average took to resolve.

This is possibly because, although the CAA will investigate flight delay claims on the behalf of passengers, its decisions are not binding on member airlines, who can ignore the outcome. Passengers then have to take their complaints about flight delay claims to the small claims court.

The situation is likely to change in September, when an Ombudsman for the airline industry is being established to comply with European rules that every industry should have a “dispute resolution service” independent from company complaints departments.

Already Thomas Cook, British Airways and EasyJet have said they will support the new free-to-use service, which will demand that airlines resolve complaints quickly and fairly. Whether or not we will see the twenty thousand complaints per year currently being received by the CAA is open to question.

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Claim against EasyJet for a Cancelled Flight Resolved in Court

July 2, 2015

A compensation claim against EasyJet for a cancelled flight has been resolved in favour of the claimant after a hearing at Liverpool County Court.

On 28th September 2010, Stuart Rose was on holiday with his family in Spain when he received an email from EasyJet to inform him that his return flight to Liverpool the following day had been cancelled due to planned industrial action by Spanish air traffic controllers.

Stuart waited until the scheduled day of his departure to re-organise his flights, when he was told by EasyJet not to go to the airport as the flight was definitely cancelled. As a result of EasyJet´s advice, Stuart paid to extend his accommodation for several days until he and his family were able to travel back to the UK via Bristol and Edinburgh.

On his return to Liverpool, Stuart discovered that his return flight had actually departed on time on the 29th September and that he had paid extra money and suffered considerable disruption because of the misinformation that he had received – both by email and over the telephone.

Stuart made a compensation claim against EasyJet for a cancelled flight under EU regulation 261/2004, but the airline denied responsibility for the error and refused to pay Stuart and his family the compensation they were entitled to even when Stuart engaged solicitors to fight the claim against EasyJet for a cancelled flight on his behalf.

Stuart´s solicitors issued court proceedings, and the claim against EasyJet for a cancelled flight was heard before District Judge Jenkinson at the Liverpool County Court – Judge Jenkinson have presided over Allen vs. Jet2.com in which he instructed Jet2.com to resume paying flight delay compensation claims after the airline had put thousands of claims on hold unjustifiably.

Judge Jenkinson found in Stuart´s favour – ruling that under Article 7 of EU regulation 261/2004, if an airline informs a passenger that their flight is going to be cancelled, then the flight should be consider as cancelled irrespective of whether the plane takes off or not. The judge ordered EasyJet to pay Stuart compensation for a cancelled flight and to reimburse him for the additional expenses he had incurred.

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