I had the recent experience of being delayed at London Luton Airport for nine hours prior to boarding my flight.
Whilst I did feel like Tom Hanks in the film The Terminal, I did spend some of my time finding out how to make a claim.
Here are some steps I followed to ensure I got my compensation:
1) Speak to the airline staff and other passengers in the airport. Find out what is going on. The flight board in the airport isn’t always up to date and by asking some simple questions you might be able to find out the actual cause of the delay, which will help with your claim.
2) Ask for information on your passenger rights and get a food/drinks voucher from the airline. The airline should provide you with information on your rights (information sheet) when they know the flight will be delayed for more then 3 hours. In addition they should offer you a food/drink voucher to spend at the airport – usually £6 or €7. Airport cafes/restaurants are usually expensive so dont expect the voucher to pay for an entire meal.
3) Ensure you go through security at the right time. Some airports will only allow you to go through security three hours before take off. If your boarding pass won’t let you through, speak to security staff and also check with airline staff as to when you can go through to ensure you don’t miss your flight.
Now that you have landed at your destination and have some spare time…
4) Make the claim. Go to your airline website and make the claim listing the details of your flight. Keep all relevant documents (paper and digital) with you in an easily accessible place so that you can reference them when making the claim. Also keep the email from the airline when they automatically acknowledge your complaint – this will be vital for making a claim if they fail to pay up.
5) If the airline fails to pay within one month, then remind them via their online complaints process about your original complaint citing the reference number. Also keep a record of this complaint and the automatic acknowledgement email for your claim.
6) Airline offers to pay you but only in airline vouchers – be careful with this offer. For instance you might be entitled to €250 cash but an airline might offer you €350 in airline vouchers. If you choose airline vouchers look carefully at the terms and conditions of the vouchers, as in some cases they have clauses that state they can revoke your vouchers. My advice is to take the cash offer, whilst lower in value it allows you to spend it flexibly with no risk of it disappearing.
7) If the airline fails to pay within 2 months, then you must refer your claim. If you are based in the UK, you must go to the Aviation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Your airline will be a signatory to this scheme and will be obliged to comply with their requests – There are other adjudication schemes in EU member states.
8) Bundle your claim documents and submit to Aviation ADR – you will be allocated a caseworker who will speak to the relevant member of staff in the airline to resolve. Usually at this stage if you have a legitimate claim it should now be resolved as airlines are contractually obliged to comply with a decision made by Aviation ADR
9) If that fails you may have to go to a small claims court. If you have a legimitimate compensation claim that has been supported by the Aviation ADR and the airline hasn’t listened, then you will need to go here. The likelihood of reaching this stage however is rare.
Whilst the vast majority of legitimate compensation payments will be made prior to any involvement from mediators such as Aviation ADR, its important to know how to escalate your claim should the airline ignore your request.
If you follow these tips you will hopefully get that compensation you deserve more quickly and have a little bit more spending money.
I spent my compensation on a new winter wardrobe!