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

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
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
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

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'