According to EU aviation regulations, airlines aren’t required to inform passengers about the cause of a delay. However, according to recent reports, airlines are exploiting this loophole to give out a variety of excuses for the exact same delay.
It has also been reported that the excuses given tend to vary according to the passenger’s persistence in seeking compensation.
The findings are the result of a probe carried out by the European Court of Auditors based in Luxembourg. The watchdog probed around 11 airlines in the EU and over 1000 people. According to the court, airlines are able to give out different reasons to different people on the same flight.
The carriers were likely to tell persistent passengers that the delay was a result of circumstances beyond their control. However, when challenged by the passenger, they would often resort to meeting the demand for compensation.
Compensation Amount Unchanged
The current maximum flight delay compensation in the EU is €600 – something that has not changed since 2004. When adjusted for inflation, the amount should be around €750 by today’s standards. The US, in contrast, offers more than €1,100 for delays and New Zealand offers 10 times the ticket value.
The compensation regulation is actually quite recent and is only applicable for delays of 3 hours or more. Now, there are rumors that the European Commission wants to bring up it up to 5 hours.
A proposal was made to revise the current rules in 2013. However, the reform did not make it due to a dispute between Spain and the UK over Gibraltar.
One EU official stated that the reform would go through after the Brexit problem gets sorted out.
Flyers Remain Unaware
Most flyers in Europe are unaware of their passenger rights in this matter and do not even consider requesting compensation. This is mainly due to the fact that most of them remain negative about the possibility of securing compensation.
Needless to say, carriers tend to make the most of this cynicism. But, on the positive side of things, several claims agencies have popped up to aid such passengers. Even so, one expert believes that the presence of claims agencies is an indicator of just how complex the compensation claims process is.
The system is also plagued by a lack of transparency. It was found that persistent passengers were more likely to receive compensation. However, carriers would avoid informing the other passengers about it.
This problem has also been observed among the state bodies that are required to enforce the rules. When passengers submit complaints about carriers to a national enforcement authority, the response from the authority is submitted in private.
The court is now requesting the European Commission to issue a new rule wherein payments to passengers affected by delays would be automated, irrespective of whether or not a request is made. According to the court, the carriers should self-declare the reasons for a said delay and make it public within 48 hours of the disruption.