The dirty tricks airlines use
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London - Money Mail names and shames airlines who won’t commit to joining a scheme aimed at ending the five-year stand-off over flight delaycompensation.
Later this year an independent complaints service will launch for passengers. A major role of this will be to judge whether travellers are entitled to compensation after suffering adelay.
But six big names have refused to say whether they will sign up.
If they don’t, it means holidaymakers will be denied the chance to have an impartial ombudsman investigate their complaints.
Meanwhile, a new investigation into Britain’s biggest airlines shows how many are still fighting customers who have suffered delays of more than three hours or had their journeyscancelled.
We have handed a dossier of 350 complaints to the regulator Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) — and stories of your battles against the airlines continue to flood in. Figures obtained by Money Mail show two million passengers a year may be entitled to claim compensation, as 10 300 flights to and from the UK are delayed long enough to qualify for a payout.
But despite two judges ordering airlines to pay compensation and the CAA demanding they follow the rules, firms continue to wriggle out of coughing up.
The CAA is hoping the independent ombudsman will end the stand-off. But it is not compulsory — airlines can decide if they want to join.
Some of the biggest names in aviation are refusing to commit to signing up, or have not made a decision. Others seemed not to have even known of the scheme.
Among those who won’t yet sign up are Monarch, RyanAir, Flybe, Delta, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
Those that have promised to join include British Airways, easyJet, Thomas Cook and Thomson.
THE LONG BATTLE FOR COMPENSATION
Under EU law, flight passengers are entitled to up to £424 (about R8 000) in compensation if their flight arrives at its destination more than three hourslate.
You can claim for delays dating back six years. The exception to this rule is if the delay is caused by a so-called extraordinary circumstance which is outside of the airline’s control — this includes bad weather or strikes.
But airlines routinely use this loophole to wriggle out of paying legitimate claims.
They had claimed that technical faults counted as an extraordinary circumstance. But in October last year, following a six-year legal battle, a court ruled that these did not qualify.
Airlines also argued that they need to pay only for delays dating back two years, citing the 1999 Montreal Convention which has a two-year limitation period for claims.
Complaints lift the lid on the appalling behaviour of some of the airlines. They reveal how some:
* CONTINUE to use ‘extraordinary circumstances’ as an excuse when actually the problem is a manufacturing defect;
* BLAME the delays on problems with flights earlier in the day;
* STALL complaints until other court cases are heard;
* ASK each traveller in a family to submit their own claim — including elderly relatives and small children;
* IGNORE the CAA when it rules in favour of passengers;
* USE delaying tactics by taking months to reply to letters and emails;
* SEND out letters filled with bafflingjargon;
* CHANGE excuses for not paying;
* TELL customers to claim on their personal travel insurance;
* REFUSE to pay unless passengers produce their original boarding pass;
* PAY compensation in vouchers instead of cash.