You may have seen Bott & Co client Kim Allen in the media a lot recently because of a flight delay claim that we’re handling for her.
Like many of you with flight delay claims, Kim’s case was originally put on hold by the courts until we had the outcome of the Huzar V Jet2 case. Bott and Co took Mr Huzar’s case all the way to the Supreme Court and the airline eventually paid out the compensation he was due.
Mr Huzar’s victory meant the hold on Kim’s case was lifted and, understandably, she thought she would receive her compensation soon. However, Jet2 then applied to put yet another hold on her case, this time until we have the decision in a Dutch case (van der Lans V KLM), which could take several years.
Kim’s case against Jet2 was chosen as a test case, meaning its outcome stands to affect up to 10,000 other Bott and Co clients across a number of different airlines.
We caught up with Kim to find out more about her experience of the airline’s stalling tactics in paying her the compensation she is rightfully owed.
1. So we’ll start from the beginning: Tell us about where you were flying from, where you were flying to and why you were going there.
I was flying with a friend from Manchester to Malaga in March 2012, on my way to see my daughter’s band Bobby & Jemima play at a private party in Marbella. The plane was due to take off in the afternoon but we ended up departing several hours late, arriving in the early hours of the morning. Even by Spanish standards it was too late to party by the time we got there!
2. How and when did you find out about the delay?
We boarded the plane as normal but then we sat on the tarmac for several hours. They said the delay was due to a technical problem that they were trying to fix. It was very hot on board but they couldn’t turn the air conditioning on because the engines had to be kept off whilst they repaired the fault. We weren’t given any refreshments, not even water, and we just kept hoping that we’d take off soon.
Eventually we were asked to disembark and make our way back into the airport. We then had to sit in the airport for a few more hours and wait whilst a replacement plane was flown to Manchester that would then take us over to Spain.
3. What happened at the airport during the delay?
After about six hours we were given vouchers for food but by this time it was late and the vouchers were only valid for outlets that had closed, so the vouchers weren’t much use! There was only one place open and it ran out of food due to demand. We were also given a letter stating we could choose not to travel and have a fare refund or take the next available flight. Cancelling our holiday was not an option and the next available flight was the one we were waiting for!
In the end, with the two hour check in time, we were waiting in the airport for around nine hours.
4. How did the delay affect your trip?
Waiting around for hours in the airport was boring and tiresome. We also incurred extra costs but for me, what I was most upset about was that I had missed my daughter’s performance with her band. We’d been lucky enough to be invited to the party and she was expecting me to be there to support them. It really was a shame and we were very disappointed.
5. How did you find out about flight compensation?
I didn’t realise I might be entitled to compensation until about 18 months after the flight. I’d seen quite a bit in the media about flight compensation so I wrote to the airline giving them details of my delay and stating that I would like to make a claim.
6. How did the airline respond?
They replied a couple of weeks later saying that they weren’t able to consider my claim because the delay happened more than two years ago. I knew that you had six years in which to make a claim for compensation, not two, and in fact my claim was made after 18 months.
I wrote to the airline again pointing this out and confirming that I still wanted to pursue my claim. This time their response stated that the time limit was not the reason they wouldn’t consider my claim but that as the delay had been caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ compensation was not payable.
I replied asking for more details about the exact technical fault as I believed that unless a delay was caused by events outside of the airline’s control, technical failures or maintenance issues were not an extraordinary circumstance.
Their reply stated that they maintained their position on the time limit and that the delay on my flight was caused by a Flap Slat fault, which they firmly believed to be an extraordinary circumstance. Therefore no compensation was payable.
7. When did you decide to use a solicitor’s to help you with your claim?
It was apparent in all the correspondence with the airline that they had no intention in honouring my claim. I did some research online to see if other people had had a similar experience. I read on some forums that people were using Bott and Co to handle their claims, as they were a firm that specialised in flight delay compensation.
I didn’t have the time, energy or experience to continue pursuing things myself so I contacted Bott and Co Solicitors. That was in September 2013 and the team have been handling my case ever since.
8. What would your advice be to others in the same situation?
I would advise people to keep on fighting for what is rightfully theirs and if they believe they are entitled to compensation to not be afraid of challenging the airline. Even if the airline states the claim doesn’t qualify don’t be fobbed off and if necessary, consult a solicitor for representation.