UK airlines accused of obstructing legitimate compensation applications for long flight delays

 

As UK airlines prepare for a wave of retrospective compensation claims by delayed passengers, some carriers have been accused of obstructing legitimate applications for long flight delays.

Last year the European Court of Justice upheld a claim that a flight delay of three hours or more amounts to a cancellation under passenger rights legislation – known as EU261. Depending on the length of the flight, passengers may qualify for compensation of between €250 and €600.

This week a judge in Staffordshire found in favour of a couple whose Thomas Cook flight from Tenerife in 2009 was delayed by 22 hours. Delayed journeys made up to six years ago may qualify for compensation under European legislation, but travel companies are making stipulations that appear intended to frustrate claims.

The standard claim form sent out by Britain’s biggest tour operator, Thomson, insists it is “essential” for the passenger to provide the original flight tickets.

Graeme Ward of Devon is seeking compensation for a six-hour delay on a Thomson Airways flight home from Madeira to Exeter three years ago. He said: “They are asking for the impossible. Who would keep old flights tickets for several years? This is just a ploy to avoid deserved compensation.”

When The Independent contacted Thomson about the demand, the company said: “Confirmation letters/emails or credit card statements can suffice especially when they are provided in conjunction with other supporting documents”. Thomson described its process for dealing with delay claims as “fair and accurate”.

Wendy Baylis was on a Thomas Cook Airlines from Palma to Manchester in September that was delayed by five hours. The judgement allowing claims for delays was handed down the following month. But when Mrs Baylis applied for compensation, Thomas Cook rejected the claim, saying: “Failing to complain within 28 days of return may reduce or extinguish any rights the guest has”.

The Independent contacted Thomas Cook on Mrs Baylis’s behalf, and was told: “On EU261 specifically, the requirement above does not mean that we will reject claims which are made more than 28 days after the customers’ flights”.

Airlines can avoid liability if they can demonstrate that the delay was due to “extraordinary circumstances”. This includes air-traffic control issues, poor weather and industrial action. But some airlines are using this defence even if the delay is due to operational decisions by the airline.

Dave Sexton from Worthing was delayed for four hours on a Monarch flight from Malaga to Gatwick last October. The airline chose to switch the assigned aircraft to cover for a defective jet serving Sharm El Sheikh. The airline told Mr Sexton “This was indeed an extraordinary circumstance that could not have been reasonably prevented by Monarch”.

Mr Sexton is challenging this view with the Civil Aviation Authority, which adjudicates on such cases.

A Which? spokesperson said: “The European Court of Justice's ruling clearly states that airlines should compensate passengers whose flights have been delayed by three hours or more, unless the delay was beyond the airline's control. Airlines need to play fair and give passengers the compensation they are entitled to.”

On Christmas Eve, Carol Garvey of south London was flying on easyJet from Gatwick to Paphos when the flight was diverted to Brussels because of a mechanical issue. The replacement plane that the airline sent was also faulty, and a third jet was finally despatched to pick up the stranded passengers.

Ms Garvey said “All I was offered by the airline was a voucher entitling me to one checked bag and an assigned seat on my next easyJet flight”. Under EU rules, the compensation due for a flight of that length is €400. But easyJet said: “Guidance from the CAA is that they consider a fault discovered during the operation of the flight concerned to be extraordinary”.

Among other cases investigated by The Independent was a passenger on a delayed British Airways flight from Gatwick to Bermuda who was told, when attempting to claim online: “Our records show flight BA2233 has not been cancelled. We regret that we are unable to proceed with your claim.”

For The Independent’s online guide to passengers’ rights, visit independent.co.uk/passengerrights

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone