Recently an article in the Financial Times revealed some of the problems that passengers have to deal with when attempting to make a flight delay compensation claim. In particular some instance where some passengers have received more compensation than others. Particularly married couples and husbands over wives. In addition, the article revealed how difficult and strewn with red-tape the entire compensation process can be, if a person decides to make a flight delay compensation claim themselves.
Imagine two couples on a Christmas mini-break. They have spent four wonderful days together in a luxury hotel in New York to celebrate the birthdays of both of the wives. Now they are on their way home.
It is December 20. The four travellers arrive at JFK airport to catch flight BA 0114 to Heathrow. They are told that their flight has been delayed by an hour. They wait. It is continually delayed by another hour, and then cancelled. They are put up in a modest hotel and told to return the next day. They do so; in the end, their plane takes off about 24 hours late. They are not worried. Deep down, they know they will be entitled to compensation for the delay.
European rules state that all passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight has been delayed or cancelled for more than three hours – if the plane took off or landed at an European airport. However the FT article revealed that only some passengers received compensation for the flight described above:
The man who booked the flights, Simon Stretch, a long-time FT Money reader, applied on December 27 for the €600 compensation due to him. The system worked. Two days later, he received confirmation that he would be paid £507.89 plus £165 in out-of-pocket expenses. The EU law (number 261/2004) had worked. For him.
The other three travelers were not so lucky. All applied about the same time. When Simon’s wife received her response, she was told that she was ineligible for compensation because a “valve was missing on the aircraft”. This constituted “extraordinary circumstances” that were not the responsibility of BA. The other couple were also told their delay had been caused by “extraordinary circumstances.”
Simon’s wife applied for the compensation three times until BA stopped responding. Her husband decided to mount a guerrilla campaign. He took to Twitter to get a response. BA phoned back. It was not prepared to discuss the claim; Simon’s wife should take her claim to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (Cedr), which would cost her £25 if her claim was rejected again. Several legal firms tweeted that they would take on her claim in return for a share of the compensation.
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