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.
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.