Thomson Airways passengers, who are due to receive a €800 compensation for a flight delay incident from January 2015, have had to approach the media to put the claims process on the fast track.
EU Flight delay rules
EU Flight delay rules exempt airlines from providing a monetary compensation to passengers if the flight delay cases fall under the category of extraordinary circumstances. However, airlines are known to cite many of the delay causes to be extraordinary circumstances, just so that they do not have to facilitate pay-outs to passengers. Of course, it is a different story once these cases are taken up in court. In the event that the case does not qualify under the said extraordinary circumstance, the court rules that the airline must reimburse the compensation amount to passengers. However, claiming the dues is a long process. Most airlines take a good number of months to facilitate it and pin the blame on the rigorous delay claims process.
Take the example of the Thomson Airways flight delay incident that occurred last January. Passengers continue to fight with the airline for a fair compensation of €800, nearly 15 months after the incident. The lucky few, who say that they have received the compensation dues, are said to have taken up the matter with a leading British daily newspaper.
According to EU flight delay rules, airlines are expected to have alternative plans to cope with extraordinary circumstances which cause unexpected changes in the flight plan. In the Thomson Airway flight situation, the flight in question that was to take passengers from Tenerife to Norwich, faced an eight-hour delay due to a delay in one of the previous flights. The other flight was delayed due to bad weather conditions. Due to this, the crew on the flight had to take a 15-hour break before they could take the flight headed to Norwich, in turn causing nuisance to passengers. Of course, Thomson Airways was aware about the delay much before, and could have arranged for an alternate crew to board the flight so passengers were not kept waiting; but it did not do the same. Arranging for a standby crew would mean loss of profits to the airline carrier.
There is no information on how many of the flight passengers are yet to receive compensation for the flight delay from Thomson Airways. The passengers who wrote to the airline asking for a fair repayment merely received an explanation on what caused the delay, if they were lucky enough to get a reply from the airline carrier. The passengers who contacted media publications on the issue, however, received a response from the airline stating that they apologized for the delay in reimbursing the payment due to the thorough delay compensation claims process. The truth is that the airline did not compensate the passenger until the media intervened, over a year after the incident. Until then, the airline denied being responsible for the incident, even though the EU 261/2004 regulation clearly states otherwise.