When will you be entitled to flight delay compensation this winter?
Thursday, December 8, 2016
It has gotten a lot colder of late and the hands of your clock have been circling its face for some time now. You will either be an ‘I have done my shopping’ or an ‘I will have at least two mini breakdowns before Christmas’. No matter how hard you try, you will probably struggle to avoid the Christmas rush. The same goes for airlines at Christmas time, they rush around in a panicked frenzy in hopes that they don't encounter any problems. Unfortunately, there is little they can do about an important cause of delays in the winter months, namely the weather.
Flight-Delayed.co.uk are here to tell you when and where you will be entitled to flight delay compensation for your Christmas flight!
Bad weather: snow on the runway
Sat cosily around the fire, wrapped in your warmest winter blanket, you see the first flake of snow fall gently on the ground. It fills you with a warm feeling and the prospect of a winter wonderland. For airlines and travellers, that first flake of snow brings dread and chaos to what is already a frantic season
Snowfall on a runway for a plane can be like kryptonite to Superman. As soon as it ices over, runways close and entire flight plans drop from the sky faster that the flakes themselves.
When that snow falls and it delays your flight by three or more hours or causes it to be cancelled, then I suggest you take a good book. EU regulation states that airlines need to award passengers flight delay compensation in all circumstances but extraordinary ones. Even the best-prepared airlines and airports can do little about the weather, thus leaving passengers empty handed and delayed.
This does not mean that passengers are left to fend for themselves. While waiting at the airport the airline still has a duty of care towards its passengers. An airline must provide its passengers with food and drink and a means of communicating the delay. If necessary, they must also provide accommodation. This is a common occurrence when a flight has been delayed overnight or if passengers have been moved to fly the following day.
Conclusion: This white Christmas, unfortunately, there will be no "gifts" from the airline.
Flight delay due to late de-icing
With each scrape of the ice forming on your car window, you forget what it was like to be warm and to be without several layers of clothing. Your car will not be the only vehicle that will be in need of de-icing this winter. Each time a plane lands in a frosty location it will need its wings de-iced. I myself have fallen foul of an icy plane wing that caused a flight delay.
It is not uncommon at airports during the winter to have a backlog of aircraft that are waiting to be de-iced. De-icing has a knock on effect on flight delays. The longer it takes to de-ice, the longer they stay grounded.
Good news for passengers: de-icing is not an extraordinary circumstance. Although airlines have in the past argued that it is, a district court in Germany ruled that airlines have to compensate their passengers. Flight-delayed.co.uk think that is a fair point. Airlines might not be able to control the weather, but they can control the organisation that surrounds the process of de-icing and getting the big birds aloft once more.
Conclusion: In the case of a flight delay due to the de-icing of the aircraft, the airline has to pay flight delay compensation.
You might think that those who serve us in the skies are indestructible robot machines sent from the future. If you do, it is safe to say that you have been ever so slightly misled by those that told you. Breaking news: stewards and stewardesses of the skies are in fact only human.
During the most turbulent times, these people provide top class service to ensure that we mere minions are comfortable and eager to fly again. Every now and again, though, these marvels of the sky get ill. That usually means that unless an airline foresaw the crew illness, your flight will be delayed or cancelled. In some cases, it has been known for an airline to request that some passengers voluntarily leave the plane so the flight can depart with the remaining number of crew members.
In any case of crew illness, the passenger is not at fault and could be entitled to flight delay compensation. As an employer, the airlines have to account for the possibility that a member of staff may become ill and a flight will be delayed as a consequence. Therefore the airlines should be prepared for such an eventuality, as crew sickness is not an extraordinary circumstance.
Conclusion: If your flight delay has been caused by crew sickness then your are entitled to claim for flight delay compensation.
When Santa Claus flies: Is that a bird, a plane or a reindeer on the runway?
I have to say, it is unlikely that any of the UK’s airports will have to contend with reindeer. But it is not uncommon for animals to obstruct the runway or an aircraft and cause a flight delay. There was a case of a goat obstructing the runway, forcing a pilot to avert his landing and take back to the skies. The most common instances of an animal causing a flight delay is known as a bird strike and is when a bird finds its way into the engine of an aircraft when either taking off or landing. This can cause an engine to fail or to be severely damaged. A recent ruling in favour of passenger rights stated that in the event of bird strikes, passengers should be awarded flight delay compensation.
Bird strikes aside, if you find that your flight has been delayed by three or more hours due to an animal obstructing the runway, you will be entitled to flight delay compensation.
Conclusion: depending on the length of the flight delay, passengers will be entitled to flight delay compensation.
When your flight has been rebooked:
An airline can change the schedule of a flight up to two weeks prior to the date of departure. If it is any later than that then you will likely be entitled to compensation. There have been cases of passengers turning up at the gate only to be told that the time or even the date of their flights have been changed. Winter is a peak season to fly and with adverse weather conditions for airlines to contend with, it is not uncommon for flights to rebooked. The airline should inform you of any changes.
Conclusion: If you are informed of your flight being rebooked less than two weeks before your departure, you are entitled to flight delay compensation.
Millions of minutes were lost during the summer due to industrial action. The winter is not much different. The mass strike by Lufthansa is the perfect example. Now, depending on who it is taking the strike action, passengers might be entitled to flight delay compensation. If it is the crew of the airline that is taking industrial action, then the airline is responsible and must pay flight delay compensation. If for instance, it is the air traffic controllers that take industrial action then the airlines are not deemed to be a fault and therefore passengers are not entitled to flight delay compensation.
If you are affected by adverse weather conditions this winter, contact Flight-Delayed.co.uk