/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Brief case: one-hour journey took three days

Missed flight

Would you be happy with a €20 voucher as compensation for three days of extra travel and over €400 spent getting home after a cancelled flight? John wasn’t.

Which? member John Lloyd and his partner Antonia Watt suffered nightmare flight delays and had to spend €443 of their own money on accommodation, meals and travel to get home from holiday.

As compensation, the airline, Vueling Airlines, offered just a €20 voucher for another flight with it – which had to be used within six months!

John had booked flights from Nice to Barcelona in May 2014. The return flight to Nice was for 24 June, but it was delayed. When they got to the airport he got a text to say it was cancelled.

flight-delay-briefThe couple’s hotel booked them on a flight for the next morning, but when they got to the airport, it was first shown as delayed, then cancelled.

John queued at the Vueling check-in desk for three hours only to be told there were no flights to Nice that day or the next. The check-in assistant booked them on a flight to Turin to catch a train back to Nice.

Vueling booked the flight to Turin, but the couple had to find a hotel and book the train. In the end they flew to Turin and took two trains to get back to their car at Nice airport. They arrived in Nice on 27 June, having spent €443.42 and travelled for an extra three days.

Our advice for John

John wasn’t impressed by the €20 voucher and asked for help from Which? Legal. We advised him to write to Vueling’s chief executive. He did so, and was given a full refund.

Under the Denied Boarding Regulation, an airline must offer you help if your flight is cancelled or delayed beyond a certain point. You’re protected if you fly from an EU airport, or a non-EU airport and into an EU airport on a ‘community carrier’ (an airline with its HQ and main place of business in the EU). You must have a confirmed booking and have checked in at least 45 minutes before your flight was due to leave.

If a flight is cancelled and you have to stay overnight, you should get two free calls, meals, drinks, plus hotel accommodation and transfers. You should have a choice of a full refund for direct flights or re-routing to your destination.

How much compensation you can get depends on flight distance and how late you arrived at the final destination.

An airline won’t have to give compensation if cancellation is caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’, such as a natural disaster or industrial action. These don’t include technical faults.

Useful links

Use our free tool to claim compensation from your airline for delayed flights


Why didn’t they just get the train back to Nice from Barcelona?

In the February of 2013 my Air France flight from Santiago (Chile) to Paris Charles de Gaulle was cancelled because of snow in Paris. The staff of Air France then looked after me very well. There were no other flights to Europe that day so Air France booked me on a flight for the following day on a LAN service from Santiago to Madrid with a connection to London with Iberia. (London was my eventual final destination). Air France booked me in a 4 star hotel in Santiago with a Lunch, Dinner and Breakfast free voucher provided. The taxi journey to and from the hotel and the airport was all paid for by Air France. My fare was economy. All I can say is thank you Air France and I am so happy that I live in an EU country too – so many benefits!