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 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 3 Germanwings plane crash: I have depression. That doesn't make me a psychopath
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat
Dreamland: Britain's oldest amusement park is set to reopen this summer in Margate
TripAdvisor reveals the top places to visit in 2015
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
Friends 20th anniversary: Where to visit as a superfan in New York
Germany's great outdoors: The Black Forest, wine country and Saxon Switzerland
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...