Fine airlines violating UK compensation rules require passengers | Travel and leisure

Some of the thousands of people whose flights were canceled or delayed during the half-time chaos have been told they will not receive any compensation, leading to demands for a change in the way passengers are reimbursed before what appears to be a chaotic summer for airlines.

Others have said that claims are lost and that they have to resubmit forms as many as seven times, while passengers caught up in previous disruptions said they have waited months for airlines to talk to them.

Consumers are asking regulators to be empowered to fine airlines if they break the compensation rules, for fear of a recurrence when the school’s summer holidays start next month. Planned flight bookings for July are already above the 2019 levels.

The beginning of June was the first time many people had taken a holiday abroad since the pandemic began, with around 2 million people traveling abroad. But the lack of employees meant that airlines and tour operators struggled to cope with demand.

Tui canceled more than 180 flights, blaming “operational and supply chain problems”; British Airways canceled 124 with several weeks notice and Wizz Air also dropped flights. EasyJet has canceled more than 280 flights since May 28 and said that they had told customers that they could rebook, get a refund or “apply for compensation in accordance with the regulations”.

However, some easyJet passengers said they had been denied compensation. Ben Brabyn and his wife and two children were to fly in the early afternoon of May 27 from Gatwick to Pisa, Italy for a family reunion originally planned before the pandemic. After hours of delays, the plane was canceled because it would not arrive in Pisa until a curfew at night. EasyJet offered a rebooking for a flight several days later – after the reunion was over – so Brabyns found a flight to Naples instead.

This meant that money was spent on parking at Gatwick, rental car in Pisa and accommodation was wasted, with extra costs for last minute airline tickets and rental car, which meant that Brabyn did not have £ 1,500 in his own pocket.

He assumed he would receive a refund and £ 880 in compensation – £ 220 per person. But last week he received an e-mail stating that he was “not qualified”.

“I have not received a refund or compensation,” Brabyn said. “There’s no way to challenge it. They gave no reason. I had some sympathy before – it’s a difficult thing to deal with. But not now.”

Other easyJet passengers said on social media that they had also been denied compensation.

A spokesman for easyJet apologized and said: “Although of course we will reimburse the family in full for their alternative flight and other expenses incurred, since this flight was canceled due to incidents beyond our control, it is in line with the regulations no compensation because of this. occasion.”

John Turville and Laurie O'Brien, on their honeymoon that British Airways almost ruined by canceling their flight to Buenos Aires.
John Turville and Laurie O’Brien, on their honeymoon that British Airways almost ruined by canceling their flight to Buenos Aires. Photo: Handout

Tui passengers said on social media that they had been denied compensation because the airline’s website said they were not listed, even though some posted pictures of boarding passes online. Others said they had tried seven times to advance a claim.

Tui apologized to customers and said that a technical error in the flight manifest system had caused the problems that have now been fixed. Only a small number of passengers were affected, it is said.

Some passengers have waited longer just for answers. Laurie O’Brien and her husband John Turville were to fly to Buenos Aires on their honeymoon on April 3 with British Airways, but their flight was canceled when they were at Heathrow. They were delayed by 13 hours on a replacement trip offered by BA.

Two months later, they have only received a generic email, O’Brien said. She believes they should receive £ 520 each for the cancellation and delay: “It is unacceptable that we have not received any apology or communication. It feels like they hope people will just forget their claims. “

BA said they apologize for the delay in responding to the couple and will contact them soon.

Lisa Webb, consumer law expert at Which ?, said: “We have seen many examples of carriers not informing passengers about [their] rights and take weeks to respond to claims – only to invite them to reapply due to technical errors. Consumers should not be forced to jump through bars to get the reimbursement and compensation they are legally owed.

“To prevent further abuse of passenger rights as the summer holiday season approaches, regulators must be given meaningful powers to hold law-abiding airlines to account, starting with direct fines for the Civil Aviation Authority.”

Resolver, which helps customers file complaints, said 2,949 people had already complained in June about canceled flights – the monthly average last summer was less than 1,000. Resolver’s Martyn James said it was “an extraordinary number”, and that he had been inundated with inquiries.

“If a flight is canceled, compensation applies so that no one will be told that they do not qualify unless there is a specific reason that precludes a claim – the error must be the airline’s or predictable by them. So strike action is in, great action is out. The air traffic control strike is out, understaffing is in. “

Passengers from most UK airlines can escalate the case to one of CAA’s mediators, known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

People are looking at a departure tray at Gatwick Airport.
This month was the first time many people traveled abroad since the Covid restrictions were lifted. Photo: Tolga Akmen / EPA

In 2019, airlines and airports paid out £ 12.9 million in compensation to exactly 18,000 of the 27,188 people who used ADR, according to quarterly CAA figures compiled by Observer.

Complaints fell during the pandemic as fewer people flew, and by 2021 the number of successful claims also dropped significantly, with 2,550 creditors receiving a share of £ 1.7 million, out of 9627 claims. CAA does not publish figures for complaints resolved or rejected by airlines and airports before ADR.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has proposed changing the rules to a system similar to the train delay compensation scheme, which some analysts say will mean lower compensation payments for travelers, but this will only apply to UK internal flights.

Airports have been quiet since six months, but will probably see more queues in July, with possible strikes by pilots in Scandinavia and airport employees in France. In the UK, airlines and airports are struggling to replace the 30,000 workers laid off during the pandemic. Shapps blamed the industry for poor planning, but industry leaders say recruits are taking other jobs due to three-month delays in getting security clearance for new airport employees.

ForwardKeys, which tracks tickets issued for scheduled flights, said bookings in July were already at 102% of 2019 levels, and 93% for August. Olivier Ponti, Vice President of Insights, said: “The destination that is currently performing best is Turkey, where bookings are 116% ahead of the corresponding moment in 2019. It is followed by Greece, 50% ahead, and India, 31% ahead.”

Abta, the travel agency, said that 58% of people had booked a holiday for the next 12 months, up from 44% in October last year.