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

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
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London