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Euro airlines: Delays continue in compensation for delays

Passengers waiting for delayed flights               Photo: Wikimedia / Tony Hisget

Passengers claiming compensation for flight delays under EU rules are finding themselves still delayed or denied in receiving the compensation; airlines are dragging out appeals of what appeared to be a settled case and are claiming the right to wait until other cases are settled.


Under European Union rules, passengers delayed in arriving at their destinations by 3 or more hours are entitled to compensation of up to 600€ (about $670), unless the delay was caused by "unforeseen" circumstances.


And there's the rub: What is "unforeseen?" The airlines have included small mechanical delays, late arrival of pilots, etc. in that category. However, courts, up to the highest European court, have ruled that it means circumstances “which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken,” such as weather, strikes, civil unrest and the like. The other delays could have been avoided by maintenance, parts supplies on hand, better pilot scheduling, etc.


But despite repeated court rulings, the airlines continue to delay. Cases are now in court asking that the airlines be ordered to pay now, on the basis of current rules and rulings. Stay tuned! For more details from The Guardian (UK) click HERE.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I like the idea of passenger's time having value, but the fines seem pretty steep to me.  I'm not sure this wouldn't hurt the viability of several smaller airlines or cause increased fares for everyone.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Yes, the fines are steep. That's intentional...if they were set very
low, the airlines would have no incentive to make the improvements and
arrangements necessary to avoid them!

Remember...these fines only apply to situations in which the airlines
could have avoided the delay but didn't.

I agree with DrF, the fines seem unnecessarily steep, especially when multiplied by a plane-load of passengers.  Stuff happens, all we well-maintained car owners know.  Not surprising the airlines are balking.  The definitions could certainly be more clearly defined and the fine amounts reduced to an amount that deters but isn't quite as medieval in proportion to the crime.

I'm going to take the contrary view. First, remember that the short clip above doesn't reflect the detailed regulations or the deliberations of the court. 


But remember the circumstance quoted “which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken,”


Reasonable measures guarantee that crews are scheduled so that even if illness befalls the scheduled crew, it does not take over 3 hours to bring a replacement crew on line.


Reasonable measures to avert mechanical difficulties include fully complying with inspection and maintenance schedules and having parts and supplies on hand. No one is going to be penalized for a broken rotor that can only be fixed at the airline's main base—but at least one case heard involved a failure based on filters that were months overdue for cleaning or replacement.


If the airlines hold up their end of what they should be doing, they would not incur the  fines.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Rules that may be perfectly reasonable for a large airline, the crew issue for instance, may be less reasonable for a small airline or a low-fare airline that needs optimally efficient practices to make money and continue to offer us the low fares.  That may not include extra crews hanging around "just in case". 


As passengers, we can't have everything - low fares and no occasional delays, although those airlines appear better at avoiding delays than any others, of necessity.  At the same time, the airlines need to know that penalties for breaking rules in favor of additional profits will be vigorously enforced.  It's a balance most of us want, not unreasonable expectations.

I'd agree with those expectations...but I also think that if the penalties are too harsh, then the airlines should move to have them changed, and enlist passenger support, not just stiff the passengers by evading the rules. And passengers CAN be won to support campaigns; it was not British Airways' lobbying, but a broad popular sentiment, that has begun dismantling the Air Passenger Duty.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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