Cheap Flights Means Late Flights, Right? No – Don’t Stand For It!

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James WalkerJames Walker, Consumer Champion shares his tips on what to do when cheap flights are delayed.

Whether you’re jetting off for some winter sun or you’re planning your summer getaway, you need to know that delayed flights often mean compensation – so make sure you’re getting your dues.

A few years’ back, cheap flights from the likes of easyJet and Ryanair meant simple, pared-back service. No frills denoted a cheap price, but at the expense of customer service.

When budget carriers entered the aviation market, traditional airlines had a rude awakening, as short-haul flights were no longer overpriced. The budget airlines removed all frills in order to create rock-bottom prices and we all flocked to take advantage of these offers.

However, the problem was that they often failed to deliver. Tight margins, quick turnarounds and removing customer services meant that when we experienced a delayed flight home or when something went wrong, we could never get hold of a company representative. Even if you were entitled to compensation, we could not get the recompense we deserved because we could simply not get through to the airline.

Today, however, Even the man who revolutionised the industry, Michael O’Leary, has recognised that customer service has changed. Research by Henley Business School has demonstrated that if a business is difficult to engage with, we will take our business elsewhere. The flight to the competition is now happening.

Traditional airlines are now also offering cheap flights. The competition has heated up and now it’s customer service that counts.

Certain recent court cases also mean there’s more pressure than ever on airlines to pay up the statutory compensation that delayed passengers could be owed.

A recent landmark ruling at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) means that passengers delayed by an aircraft technical fault will now be far more likely to receive statutory compensation.

How so? Well, Europe-wide flight delay legislation states that if your flight is delayed by more than three hours – or cancelled – you could be eligible for compensation. This could be more than £400 per person in some cases, unless the reason for the delay is considered to be an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ – in other words, outside the airline’s control.

People are taking the opportunity as well – more than a quarter of all cases raised via my online complaint-resolution tool Resolver.co.uk are about flights and flight delays.

If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, takes off and lands in the European Union and the issue is within the control of the airline you are entitled to compensation. The same applies to an international flight landing into the European Union (e.g. New York to London).

The compensation is based on distance. For a flight to Pisa the amount would be around £330. However, this amount can vary between £210 and £500 depending on the exchange rate with the Euro.

What If It Happens To You?

So if your cheap flight is delayed what should you do?

  • Keep your boarding pass – never throw this away until your plane has landed and you have retrieved your entire luggage. Your boarding pass is your proof that you were on the plane.
  • Know your rights – you can calculate how far your plane journey is at http://www.webflyer.com/travel/mileage_calculator/ so then you will have an idea about your compensation.
  • Submit your case – you can either write into the firm using their form or undertake the initial submission through the resolver website or App.
  • Don’t give up – a lot of potential compensation is not taken up because of the effort it involves.  Companies make it hard to claim so perseverance is key and you if not satisfied you can escalate your case to the Civil Aviation Authority to adjudicate!

Written by James Walker Fighting For Your Rights! Consumer Champion – the man who helps you resolve your consumer complaints! James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution tool Resolver.co.uk Follow James via @resolvercouk, or email [email protected]