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Airlines urged to settle compensation claims

Thousands of compensation claims turned down

Airlines have been urged to settle compensation claims for delays more quickly after the official regulator was hit by a ‘deluge’ of cases from passengers not happy with how they had been treated.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has received nearly 6,000 complaints from people who claimed compensation from an airline after a landmark legal ruling last October but were not satisfied with the response.

The CAA has ruled in favour of passengers in about half the cases it has dealt with, leading to payments to passengers worth €95,700. It now wants airlines to start settling claims direct with passengers ‘much more quickly’.

Flight delay compensation

You can find out if you are entitled to make a claim for a flight delay as a result of the European Court of Justice judgement on the Which? consumer rights website

The judgement confirmed that European law governing passengers’ flight rights does mean that passengers whose flights are delayed by three hours or more are entitled to claim compensation. 

Passengers are entitled to claim between €250 and €600 from airlines, depending on the length of the flight, unless the delay was down to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ beyond the control of the airline. The ruling also meant that passengers could claim for delays up to six years after the event.

Airline compensation claims

Since then tens of thousands of people have been making claims to airlines, and thousands have been disappointed in the airlines’ response.

Which? Travel has heard complaints from members that claims are being turned down based on inaccurate information about what is meant by ‘extraordinary circumstances, as well as inaccurate information about how far claims can be backdated.

So far 5,800 people have taken their claim to the CAA after they were not happy with the airline’s response.

Compensation claim backlog

The CAA said it is now dealing with a ‘large backlog’ of claims but has so far found in favour of the passenger in about half the cases it has dealt with.

CAA director of regulatory policy Iain Osborne said there had been a ‘deluge’ of claims. ‘We would far rather that passengers never needed to involve us and airlines settled claims more quickly, directly with passengers,’ he said.

The CAA is expected to issue guidelines about what circumstances can be considered extraordinary before the summer. 

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