Beautiful airlines that break UK compensation rules demand passengers | Travel & leisure

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

Others spoke of lost claims and having to resubmit forms up to seven times, while passengers caught up in earlier disruptions said they waited months for airlines to speak to them.

Consumer champions are calling for regulators to be empowered to fine airlines if they breach compensation rules, fearing a repeat when the summer school holidays start next month. Scheduled flight bookings for July are already above 2019 levels.

Early June marked the first time many people had taken overseas vacations since the start of the pandemic, with around 2 million people traveling overseas. But staff shortages have forced airlines and tour operators to struggle to keep up with demand.

Tui canceled more than 180 flights, blaming ‘operational and supply chain issues’; British Airways canceled 124 flights with weeks’ notice and Wizz Air also abandoned flights. EasyJet has canceled more than 280 flights since May 28 and said it told customers they could rebook, get a refund or “seek compensation in accordance with regulations”.

But some easyJet passengers said they were denied compensation. Ben Brabyn and his wife and two children were due to fly on May 27 in the early afternoon from Gatwick to Pisa in Italy for a family reunion originally planned before the pandemic. After hours of delay, the flight was canceled as it would not arrive in Pisa before a nighttime curfew. EasyJet offered to rebook a flight several days later – after the meeting had ended – so the Brabyns found a flight to Naples instead.

This meant that money spent on parking at Gatwick, car hire in Pisa and accommodation were all wasted, with additional costs for airfare and last minute car hire leaving Brabyn around 1 £500 out of pocket.

He assumed he would get a refund and £880 in compensation – £220 each. But last week he received an email saying he was “ineligible”.

“I received no refund or compensation,” Brabyn said. “There’s no way to dispute it. They didn’t give a reason. I had a certain sympathy before – it’s a difficult thing to deal with. But not right now.”

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

An easyJet spokesperson apologized and said: “While we will of course reimburse the family in full for their alternative flight and other expenses incurred, as this flight has been canceled due to events unrelated to our will, in accordance with the regulations, no compensation is due for this theft occasion.”

John Turville and Laurie O’Brien, on the honeymoon British Airways nearly ruined by canceling their flight to Buenos Aires. Photography: handout

Tui passengers said on social media that they were denied compensation because the airline’s website said they were not listed, although some posted pictures of travel cards. online boarding. Others said they had tried seven times to press charges.

Tui apologized to customers and said a technical error on its flight manifest system caused the issues which have now been resolved. Only a small number of passengers were affected, he said.

Some passengers waited longer just for an answer. Laurie O’Brien and her husband John Turville were due to fly to Buenos Aires on their honeymoon on April 3 with British Airways, but their flight was canceled while at Heathrow. They suffered a 13-hour delay on an alternative route offered by BA.

Two months later, they only received a generic email, O’Brien said. She thinks they should be paid £520 each for the cancellation and the delay: “It is unacceptable that we have not received any apology or communication. It’s as if they were hoping that people would just forget about their complaints.

BA said he was sorry for the delay in responding to the couple and would contact them soon.

Lisa Webb, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “We have seen many examples of carriers failing to inform passengers of [their] rights and taking weeks to respond to complaints – only to be prompted to reapply due to technical errors. Consumers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the refunds and compensation they are legally owed.

“To prevent further abuses of passenger rights as the summer holidays approach, regulators must be given meaningful powers to hold carriers who break the rules to account, starting with direct fine powers for the airline. ‘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 cancelled, compensation applies, so no one needs to be told they are ineligible unless there is a specific reason that rules out a claim – the fault must be that of the airline or be foreseeable by it. So the strike is on, the storm is over. The air traffic control strike is over, the staff shortage is there.

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

People look at a departures board at Gatwick Airport.
This month was the first time many people had traveled abroad since Covid restrictions were lifted. Photography: Tolga Akmen/EPA

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

Complaints fell during the pandemic as fewer people flew, and in 2021 the number of successful claims also fell significantly, with 2,550 claimants receiving a share of £1.7m, out of 9 627 complaints. The CAA does not publish figures on complaints resolved or dismissed by airlines and airports before the ADR.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has proposed changing the rules to something similar to the train delay compensation scheme, which some analysts say would mean lower compensation payments for travellers, but that won’t happen. would only apply to domestic flights within the UK.

Airports have calmed down since mid-term but are expected to see more queues in July, with a possible strike by pilots in Scandinavia and airport staff in France. In the UK, airlines and airports are struggling to replace the 30,000 workers made redundant during the pandemic. Shapps blamed the industry for poor planning, but industry executives say recruits are taking other jobs due to three-month delays in getting security clearance for new staff. ‘airport.

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

Abta, the travel industry body, said 58% of people had booked holidays for the next 12 months, up from 44% in October last year.

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