Airline carriers have come under attack after refusing to pay passengers their due flight delay compensations. These compensations are believed to be worth several million pounds and airlines have been using a loophole to avoid paying them.
According to the Sunday People, airlines are exploiting the “extraordinary circumstances” clause to deny passengers their rightful flight delay compensations. The extraordinary circumstances clause allows airlines to refuse compensations if the flight delay was caused by circumstances beyond control such as bad weather, hijacking or natural disasters.
However, industry watchdogs state that most of these delays are genuine caused as a result of mechanical failures and staff shortages. According to one complaint handling service, 50% of the 100,000 complaints that come to them are genuine.
Now, industry watchdogs are persuading the government to create and authorise legislation that will prevent airlines from acting in this manner.
One such incident saw a female passenger being denied compensation even though her flight was cancelled due to a mechanical fault, a truth that was admitted later by the ground staff.
The passenger said that she would have accepted the airlines’ refusal to entertain the claim had the ground staff not informed her of the real situation. She added that she felt misled.
Delays, delays, delays!
Statistics indicate that around 50% of delay claims are genuine.
Another incident involved a passenger being kicked off a flight due to overbooking. When the passenger submitted a claim, the airlines refused to entertain it, citing “extraordinary circumstances” as the reason for the inconvenience caused. This was done despite the passenger being told directly that he was being booted off due to overbooking.
Fortunately, the passenger in question managed to collect the compensation after handing the case over to a compensation resolution service.
Consumer reports indicate that holidaymakers in the UK are losing out on millions of pounds as a result of unclaimed compensations. Just last August, the UK saw 4000 flight cancellations and 120,000 flight delays.
According to an expert from the compensation services sector, airlines need to prove that a delay has been caused due to “exceptional” factor. Anything other than that would qualify as unclear or vague. He added that airline operators may not be able to control certain situations, however, they are required to be responsible towards passengers.
Vicki Sheriff, Director of Campaigns and Communications at a watchdog firm, says that airlines should avoid making the process harder than it already is and that the present system is simply ineffective. He believes that the government needs to bring in legislation that can be followed universally by all airlines.
Airlines UK, an industry body representing British air operators, stated that airlines must provide effective customer service to keep their customers satisfied, which is important in a competitive market. The body added that they realise the importance of regulation in ensuring basic standards during difficult situations and that most cases were resolved without the passengers having to go to courts or compensation services.