/ Travel & Leisure

Should all airlines offer automatic compensation for flight delays?

flight delays

A delayed or cancelled flight can ruin a holiday and claiming compensation can be a frustratingly drawn-out process. That’s why we’re calling on all airlines to implement automatic compensation. 

According to Which?’s analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data, almost 1.2m air passengers were hit by extensive flight delays last year. This means many passengers may have been entitled to compensation under current EU regulation.

Holiday blues

My recent holiday to Ibiza was exactly what a holiday is meant to be: too much sun, sea and sangria. It was my first experience of an all-inclusive holiday and having the added effort of sourcing food and drink taken away was a delight. That’s not to say that we didn’t pop into the town to sample the authentic cuisine.

After all that R&R, my better half and I were fully recuperated and ready(ish) to face the ‘work, work, work, eat, sleep, repeat’ routine that awaited. However, we weren’t expecting the stresses of the real world to encroach on our holiday at the outward bound check-in desk.

On arrival at Ibiza Airport we were welcomed by a message, emblazoned in bright yellow, and alternating between Spanish and English. Our flight was delayed.

An hour or so later, a representative from the tour operator we booked through came round to let us know that our plane would be delayed by a full six hours! Faces red with frustration, we patiently waited to be checked in, graciously accepted the €30 food and drink voucher, and went to the departures lounge.

Yes, we were fed and watered and, as a Which? employee, I knew exactly what I needed to do to claim compensation, but we were still wasting our day doing nothing when we could’ve been on a beach or on our sofa.Thank goodness we weren’t on our way to an important business meeting, a family engagement or flying out for a holiday and suffering an even longer delay.

When we eventually took off at 1535 (we were due to fly at 1035), the pilot informed us the plane had been stuck in Moscow overnight. Armed with all this information, my girlfriend began the compensation process as soon as we got in. After completing the relevant forms, we were told to wait 56 days(!) before we heard back.

Wider issue

Of course, we aren’t the only ones to be hit by severe delays. Statistics from five years ago reveal that EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have seen an increase in the number of passengers suffering lengthy delays to short haul journeys.

Over the last five years EasyJet has seen a 111% increase in the number of passengers delayed by three hours or more, with the total now standing at 191,000. Ryanair and British Airways have seen their figures almost double over this period to 90,000 and 131,000 respectively.

If, like me, you flew short haul for your holiday, you would potentially be able claim €250 if you were delayed by more than three hours. Long-haul passengers could claim €300 if you arrived three to four hours late, rising to €600 if your flight was at least four hours late.

Should you have experienced a delayed or cancelled flight in the same way as me, you can use our new-and-improved tool to start your claim here:

Claim for a flight delay

BA’s catastrophic IT failure over the spring bank holiday this year was a huge catalyst behind the launch of our new Upgrade Airline Compensation campaign, which called on British Airways to introduce automatic compensation. Now we’re opening the campaign up to apply pressure on all airlines to implement automatic compensation.

You can support us by signing the petition below.


Comments
Guest
Alan Spann says:
1 August 2017

I have not been delayed myself but I am aware that a lot of other people have so I wish to support the campaign for automatic compensation.

Guest
Sarah says:
1 August 2017

An automatic refund in my opinion isn’t warranted in all situations so I’m curious about the fine detail regarding the compensation. Delays as a result of their own staff’s strike action, mismanagement of staff schedules, faulty airplane, not enough aircraft staff for a journey due to sickness etc should definitely be reimbursed. Delays to do with poor weather conditions, terrorist threat, air traffic control slowing down departures, strike action by people external to their airline regarding a topic not directly targeted at the airline who somehow impact flight departures, emergency landing due to a sick passenger etc should not have to be covered by the airline because these things have nothing to do with them. So I guess to me it depends on if it was their fault for the delay or an external issue.

I don’t work in aviation so I have no vested interest, but I do know that many airlines in the USA have been in chapter 11 (stage just before bankruptcy) and have been subsidised by the US government as tourism and travel are massively important for a country’s income which means the airlines cannot collapse. So in some cases, I wonder if you’re better off claiming back on your travel insurance as subsidised airlines just eat into tax money…..

Guest

Sarah, the existing compensation of €250/€400/€600 doesn’t apply to bad weather situations, only where the delay is within the airline’s control. All that is being suggested is that the existing compensation should be automatic rather than passengers having to claim manually. Although nobody can explain how this could be paid automatically, given that airlines don’t have passengers’ bank account numbers.

Guest
John M. says:
1 August 2017

I don’t have the time to read all these items before I reply.
You asked me whether I agreed that people should be automatically compensated for delays.
I clicked on, ‘No’.
You then directed a message to me which amounted to , “Why’s that?”
Then you gave me a huge list of comments to trudge through before I answered your question – your question – not something I asked you for!

There are numerous reasons for saying, “No”, including:
Compensation would raise the cost of flights without necessarily reducing delays (see the trains);
Compensation would not compensate me for my time;
Perhaps we ought not to be encouraging people to fly;
Compensation would come out of the pockets of other travellers, not the companies;
Sometimes there can be genuine reasons for delay, outside the power of the Airlines (Iknow that they may sometimes quote bogus, ‘Circumstances beyond our control’.

I could go on….and on…an…..

Guest

John M, you’ve missed the point. This is not about whether compensation should be paid; it is already paid – €250, €400 or €600. All that is being suggested is that the existing compensation should be automatic rather than passengers having to claim manually. Although nobody can explain how this could be paid automatically, given that airlines don’t hold passengers’ bank account numbers.

Guest
Tom says:
2 August 2017

Compensation claims can be very difficult… or fairly easy.
I fly for business so I do experience my share of delays, and the skies over northern Europe are very busy (especially on a Friday morning it seems) so any minor airport problem can have big knock-on effects for many flights.
TAP were the only one who made it so difficult – and were so hard to communicate with – that I gave up.
However, EasyJet – of all the unlikely low cost candidates – get the gold medal for easy claiming: not only did the pilot repeatedly point out that the delay was in excess of 3 hours & apologise profusely (all but instructing the passengers to make a claim!), the online process was quick and straightforward, and payment made by bank transfer in 2-3 weeks with no question.
So, BA and all the others, get your act together!
Yes, it’d be great if compensation were automatic (seems fairest, and has the lowest admin cost by far), but if your claim process were as painless as EasyJet’s was for me, you’d not get anywhere near as much bad press.

Guest
HBA says:
2 August 2017

I do not think thi is an important campain. If anything is a misleading one:

-Instant compesation for delays will bring prices up.
-Airlines don’t like to be late and do not have control on the weather, airport rules and security, other company flrights, etc.
– If we push them for compensation, they might feel pushed to take off without all the checks….
– We can’tbe protected for everything! We need to assume risksas part of our lifes, and travelling has risks, but arriving late is part of the adventure mostly when you go on holidays…
– And if you travel for business….everyie understands if your plane arrives late.

Guest

HBA, the existing compensation of €250/€400/€600 doesn’t apply to bad weather situations, only where the delay is within the airline’s control. All that is being suggested is that the existing compensation should be automatic rather than passengers having to claim manually. Although nobody can explain how this could be paid automatically, given that airlines don’t have passengers’ bank account numbers.