A large number of European airlines are accused of wilfully blocking flight delay compensation claims made by passengers for cancelled and delayed flights. These claims have been recorded despite a new EU ruling in 2014. According to the ruling, a passenger who suffers due to a cancelled or a delayed flight could be entitled to delayed flight compensation. The compensation amount could range from £204 to £490. Passengers can claim compensation if their flight is delayed by three hours or more.
Applicable areas and escape clauses
The ruling is applicable to every passenger entering or departing from the airports of Norway, European Union, Switzerland or Iceland. It can also be enforced if a passenger flew from an airline based in these areas.
However, according to research conducted by a website, flight-delayed.co.uk, European airlines have ignored the ruling by EU. The flight-delayed website aims to assist passengers in getting compensation claims.
Airlines can get relief from paying flight delay compensation to their passengers if flight cancellations or delays are due to “extraordinary circumstances”. It is an umbrella term to describe any situation outside the control of the airline. It could mean abnormal weather, airline security issue, unexpected technical complication and strike.
According to the website, airlines are taking advantage of the “extraordinary circumstances” clause to get away from paying any delayed flight compensation. It states that among the claims filed, an overwhelming majority are rejected as soon as they are made. The reason cited for such rejection is explained as technical defects.
As per available statistics, of the 10,000 passengers who made up the data, only 846 of them received due compensation from the airline after they made their first request. They rest were led into lengthy complaint procedures to seemingly dissuade them from getting the compensation.
Research has also revealed that airlines frequently wilfully slow down the process when they have to respond to claims made by passengers. Many airline companies frequently ignore the recommended six weeks timeframe, established by the EU ruling.
Since the ruling in October 2012, less than quarter of the claimants received a response to their claim within the period of six weeks – a thrash down from the 45 percent prior to the date. According to Raymond Veldkamp, spokes person for flight-delayed.co.uk, airlines habitually ignore to respond or do not respond at all, within the time specified under the law. Even if there is a response from their end, the claim, in a majority of cases, is rejected.
A British Airways spokesperson said that the company does not recognise any findings unearthed by the research. It is to be mentioned that British Airways, as per the research, responds to only about 17 percent of the claims within the six-week time period. As per the directive of the Civil Aviation Authority, any claimants who are not recipients of a swift response, or are not happy with the provided response, can contact the Authority to have their claim taken up without any expense.