Thanks to a number of issues plaguing their travel plans, a newly married couple was forced to spend the wedding night at an airport terminal. Matthew and Natalie Hogg were scheduled to fly to Cuba via Madrid on an Iberia flight for their honeymoon. However, a brake failure led to the flight being stranded on the runway for almost an hour.
To fix the situation, British Airways transferred the couple onto a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul, where they could catch a connecting flight to Havana. However, according to Ms. Hogg, Turkish Airlines caused severe problems for them as well because they had no records showing that the two were booked onto the flight. The couple was also asked to pay a fee of 16 pounds each for Turkish Visas, failing which, they would not be handed over their luggage.
After spending another 24 hours at the airport, the couple was then provided seats on a KLM flight. The KLM flight was headed to Amsterdam, from where the couple was scheduled to catch a connecting flight to Havana.
Trouble at Paradise
Though they finally made it to Havana, the honeymooners were still not free of trouble. At the destination, they were told that their luggage had been misplaced and that it would be delivered to their hotel, located 140 miles away, in a week. Left with no choice, the couple was then forced to book accommodations close to the airport.
Due to the mounting media pressure, KLM eventually agreed to provide Compensation in the form of transportation and living expenses for the couple’s stay. Other than the boarding and transportation expenses, KLM also paid the couple the actual compensation that was due to them. British Airways offered the couple an e-voucher worth 200 pounds and even refunded their Turkish Visa fees.
Lawyers are now working towards making Iberia compensate the couple for the inconvenience caused. Under the European Commission Regulation 261/2004, Iberia is liable to pay the couple for the flight delay that led to the situation. The estimate for the compensation is believed to be around 530 pounds.
When requisitioned for compensation, Iberia responded by stating that the delay was caused as a result of a technical issue, which according to EU regulations, frees the airline from paying any compensation. The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) had created an ombudsman-like service last year that now makes complaints legally binding. However, the service is not mandatory. Since Iberia did not sign up for the service, the airline is free from any agreement. Nevertheless, the CAA can still charge a penalty fee of 150 pounds. The fee is collected to punish and warn airlines that have not signed up.
The confusion caused as a result of such regulations leads to passengers often having to take matters to court. Ms. Hogg spoke to the media about how frustrating it was to battle all the airlines that were involved in ruining their wedding plans and being constantly told that they had signed up for the risks. She referred to the various airlines as being “uncompromising” and “pitiless”.