Air passenger rights are in a desolate state of affairs. The baton conducting this sad requiem, is swung by none other but the airlines. Ever since EC Regulation 261/2004 gave air passengers rights to compensation of up to €600 for severe delays, cancellations and other flight disruptions, airlines have been determined to do everything possible and sometimes impossible to stop people from getting any money. The same money that passengers are legally entitled to.
Train, coach and ferry delays are also subject to compensations imposed by European law, but have received far less publicity. This is for a simple reason: Companies operating trains, coaches and ferries simply pay up when they are responsible for delays. It could really be this simple.
Airlines have more cunning. They stall, ignore, blur, fight or simply reject passenger compensation claims. On top of this, the whole industry has been sitting on its hands since June 2014 and will not lift its butt until the Supreme Court decision on the landmark case of Huzar v Jet2.com is received. The airline lost at the Court of Appeal which ruled that disruptions caused by technical faults, are those that passengers should be compensated for, unless the airline can prove that the fault was caused by outside elements, such as a bird strike.
Jet2 in its determination, petitioned the Supreme Court with a further appeal. And we will only know by early November 2014 if the appeal is granted or rejected. If granted, we are looking at the middle of 2015 before any justice is done. Not great for passengers, one would remark.
In the meantime, passengers that suffered great flight disruptions continue to wait. Whilst they wait, they are entertained by an unending parade of tricks and excuses laid on by the airlines intending to escape their compensation liability.
One example for all: Some airlines decided that, the less they disclose about the reasons for flight disruptions, the better. And of course, sometimes the airlines are not to be blamed for flight delays, let's say, when their aircraft suffers a lightning strike. However, instead of telling their paying customers what actually happened, airlines just send a letter stating that the delay was caused by 'an unexpected flight safety shortcoming'. Even a sound mind is not capable of making any sense of this reason, or indeed working out if there is a feasible claim or not.
So people that suffered long hours of waiting at airports find themselves taking airlines to court, spending money on court fees and legal representations and only then discovering, that air carriers have been pulling their legs. Quite unnecessary, one would say. A waste of time and money for both sides. Yet, airlines do it and more often than ever. So to sum up the latest tactics: The less we know, the less confident we can be about our claim's viability.
Paying customer should be the boss
Continuously, passengers are shown that the airlines will go the extra mile to complicate lawful and just compensation claims. However, consumers should not be fooled by the bullying tactics. Ultimately, paying passengers are the most powerful as the air industry cannot operate without them. And there will be a day, perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow but soon, when those paying for the service, get what they are entitled to - justice.