A bit of an off beat subject, but since it kept me busy for the past 24 hours, reason enough to file a post on this. What was supposed to be a routine flight between Brussels and Geneva with cheap-flight operator Easyjet, became a bit less routine as the plane that was supposed to take us from Brussels to Geneva failed to leave Geneva on an earlier flight. It took more than an hour before Easyjet staff in Brussels got the message, but we were not going to leave anymore: the plane was stuck because of technical problems, and we would only be able to take a flight next morning.
Easyjet staff then started to hand out a prepared leaflet on the regulation 261/2004 rules on compensation, detailing the rights of the passengers. More than 200 passengers got a hotel room for the night, free internet, food and taxi’s to their hotels. The next morning (pretty late, I must admit) we were rebooked on another flight.
The leaflet also suggested that we could claim a compensation of euro 250 per person.
The last remark seemed interesting, but that evening I had better things to do. Go to the NH Hotel in Brussels (do not go there voluntarily if you want a good internet connection and a bed that does not break your back), inform people about my delay and rebook my new flight.
On my rebooked flight, I looked at the leaflet again. As you see, it was a EU law adopted in 2004, but suddenly even Easyjet pointed out to me, I could claim those 250 euro. I was eligible because the delay was more than two hours (actually in the end 14 hours) and it was all the airline’s fault. In case of wildcat strikes, exploding volcano’s or other major disruptions the airline was not obliged to pay up. But this was their own fault.
A small search showed that airlines had been very effective in stopping the passengers from getting their compensation from 2004, when the law was adopted. From this article in The Guardian I learned that only last month the highest European court, the European Court of Justice, decided enough was enough. That probably explains why I got yesterday this leaflet: it is all only a week old.
The real effect of the court order is not yet clear, the Huffington Post writes:
“The Court of Justice has confirmed its previous ruling that passengers whose flights have been delayed for a long time may be compensated,” the court said. Carriers would be exempt if delays were due to “extraordinary circumstances” but it did not outline what this might be. Bad weather will allow airlines sidestep responsibility, but the court said many cases of industrial action were not valid excuses.
Compensation can actually increase to euro 600 for the long-haul flights. For our short flight the extra costs are limited, if all the 200+ passengers would cost euro 25,000 for the financial compensation – not including extra staff hours, hotels and taxi’s; I do not expect many people at this stage to ask for the compensation, but that might change in the future. Costs for the airlines will go up, unless they improve their efficiency.
I’m going to ask for the compensation, and will keep you informed about the developments.
Update: And yet another article on this issue, by Travel Mole. There is more, but on the outstanding rights:
It dismissed an application by the airlines to limit claims for delays that occurred prior to today’s hearing, which means passengers can now claim compensation retrospectively. Flight-delayed.co.uk, a website that assists passengers making claims, estimated claims worth up to €90m were outstanding.
6 November 2012: sent claim to Easyjet by registered mail.
12 November 2012: Receive a standard apology from Easyjet by email. Not mention of the compensation.
15 November 2012: email from Easyjet customer service. They will compensate the requested euro 250, but not my expenditure at the hotel bar.
22 November 2012: email from Easyjet customer service. They cannot send the compensation to my bank account, sending them details of my credit card.
23 November 2012. It took a while before I got the consent letter to get the compensation one of my credit cards. (I believe the Easyjet customers service seems to be based in India, looking at the names of the people involved and the response times.) Here it is if you need a copy. Have no printer/scanner available till Thursday, so next delays might be on my part.
3 December 2012. After some delay on my side (no printer, scanner available), I have emailed the consent form back to the customer service of Easyjet.
12 December 2012. Email from Easyjet customer services tell me the passenger should sign the consent form before they can pay. Since I was the passenger and I signed the consent form I ask them as polite as possible what the hell they mean.
14 December 2012. I was able to sent off a slightly adopted consent form (changed my first name into the three letters of my first three official names in my passport and on the boarding card).
15 December 2012. The tricks seems to be to do everything to get me pissed off, before paying me. The email I have sent just now: