Denying air passengers their rights

By | Category: Travel news
image of an Emirates flight

Emirates – the airline with the most complaints

 Most passengers now know that if their flight is delayed or cancelled they are entitled to compensation.

Most airlines follow the EU legislation, commonly referred to as EU261, and pay up. Some are notoriously slow in paying despite the fact that if passengers can cite the flight number there is a freely available source that says how late the flight was.

Now the CAA which is tasked with protecting the rights of flyers has taken the unusual step of threatening legal action against five airlines who have thumbed their collective noses at the legislation.

American Airlines, Etihad, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines have been told by the CAA to obey EU rules or face unlimited fines. The airlines confirmed to the CAA they do not pay compensation to passengers who had experienced a delay on the first leg of a flight that caused them to miss a connecting flight and, as a result, to arrive at their final destination over three hours late. Passengers using Emirates have filed the most complaints with the CAA about compensation

That they are airline companies from outside the EU doesn’t matter a whit. What matters is that they fly into and out of European air space and therefore are liable. Three years ago, the CAA applied similar pressure to three European airlines who thought they could brazen out complaints until affected passengers grew so tired of the process that they would give up. Those three, Aer Lingus, jet2 and Wizz Air toed the line. Now it is hoped that the five currently being named and shamed will do the same.

Richard Moriarty, director of consumers and markets at the CAA, said, “Airlines’ first responsibility should be looking after their passengers, not finding ways in which they can prevent passengers upholding their rights.”

The CAA did say that “while Turkish Airlines has given their passengers access to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service, which is designed to ensure they can get quick, independent and binding decisions on their disputes with the airline, none of the other airlines facing enforcement action have joined ADR services.”

Another airline, Vueling (part of IAG which owns Aer Lingus, BA and Iberia) has had enforcement action started against it for failing to comply with the minimum standards for care and assistance – including a lack of clear oversight to check passengers are being looked after within the requirements of the law.

In addition, the CAA said that they “have worked with a number of airlines to ensure that those who offer the choice of a voucher for free travel in cases of downgrading or denied boarding make it clear to consumers that they can choose to have cash. These issues were resolved without the need for enforcement action.”

You do get the impression that airlines who don’t obey clearly established rules need to have stronger action taken against them. For example if a justifiable claim is not paid out within a CAA set time, the amount of compensation is doubled.

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