Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Must I accept a voucher for flight delay?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Monday 22 April 2013
Q. My flight was delayed last year. Thomas Cook have offered £1,083 in compensation - but only as a voucher. Must I accept this, or can I insist on a cash or cheque payment?
A. For a flight that is three hours late or more, for a reason within the airline's control, European passenger rights law (EU261) stipulates compensation of €250, €400 or €600 per person, depending on the length of the journey; see bit.ly/PlaneRepay for more details.
I am glad to see Thomas Cook Airlines has agreed to compensate you. But I am concerned to see the firm is offering vouchers rather than the cash to which you are legally entitled.
Any travel company would rather pay out in vouchers for use on its own products than dispense cash; it keeps the money in the company. The spirit of the rules is that travellers should be offered real money. But Thomas Cook is taking advantage of the clause that permits the airline to pay in vouchers "with the signed agreement of the passenger".
Passengers who claim successfully from Thomas Cook under the European rules get a standard letter saying: "In line with our obligations under Regulation 261, I would ask you to accept the enclosed voucher".
A spokesman for the company says: "Unless specified by the customer, we offer vouchers. If however if the customer requests cash during the process, or would rather have cash after we have offered vouchers, we will exchange this for cash, so it is always ultimately with the customers agreement."
Insist on cash or cheque - then you can choose to spend the compensation on anything you like - including a future Thomas Cook holiday.
Click HERE to email Simon.
You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 4 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
- 5 What TripAdvisor users think of 16 of the world's most popular landmarks
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Labour leadership contest: I would never quit the party, says Liz Kendall
COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...
£25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...
£17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...
£12500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Drivers wanted for a family run...