Thursday 29 September 2016

Know your rights: Poor compensation after a three-hour flight delay

Poor compensation after a three-hour flight delay; and an annoying €10 minimum spend. What are your rights? Our expert has the answers...

Dermott Jewell

Published 03/06/2016 | 02:30

Dermott Jewell
Dermott Jewell

Q: Hello Dermott. Four of us went to a match in Treviso last week and our return flight from Treviso to Dublin was delayed. We were to land in Dublin at 19:55 but landed only at 23:30. The airline offered us a pizza at Treviso airport but now, following our enquiries, has advised us by email that that's the only form of "compensation" we are going to get.

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I had thought there were rules on this and that there was a monetary penalty payable in addition depending on the distance. Would you please confirm what are our rights and how we can bring a case? With the Euros coming up this could become a nightmare for fans. Regina.

A: Hi Regina. There is a lengthy EU Regulation on this one that I will try to simplify. That said, as you will see, there is not a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer with this matter.

In a nutshell, regarding your query, yes, the Regulation says that delays of three hours or more in the case of all flights within the EU of more than 1,500km are covered. Your flight was 1,580kms and the delay was 3 hours and 35 minutes and so it fits the bill. What are you entitled to - free meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time (or, put plainly, more than a pizza!)

Now, the Regulation stopped short of saying that compensation was payable in cases of delay. This was challenged in 2009 and then, in 2012, the European Court of Justice specified that compensation must be paid, where the delay is more than three hours, in the same amount as a cancellation. So, yes again, under those rules the claim specified for compensation in your case could be €400.

But, perhaps no, because, if the airline can prove that the delay was caused by an extraordinary circumstance which could not have been avoided, even if all reasonable measures had been taken, no compensation will be payable.

Therefore, you need to contact the Commission for Aviation Regulation at info@aviationreg.ie to follow this up, Regina. They will follow up on this important final question. Buona fortuna!

 

Q: Dermott, I was in a supermarket last week and they have a minimum spend of €10. I thought this was done away with in the finance bill? It's forcing people to spend money they don't want to. To add insult, they also added a 30 cent per item charge on pay-point bill payments - and they want us to go cashless! Joseph.

A: I read this, Joseph, and come back to support and clarify. I have had a major issue for years now with retailers adding on their own charges - per item also - for mobile and transport top-ups, bill pays and anything else that they wish. They do so because there is no regulator or elected group bothering to question or tackle it officially, citing market forces as the problem.

On that point, it was only the stamp duty of €5 for your combined Debit/ATM card that was abolished in the budget. Which, in its own way, served only to better facilitate the continuity of these added profit margins from shops, pubs and all the other outlets that claim to have only the best interests of their valued customers at heart? Minimum spend is the 'market' forcing a negative choice on the consumer!

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