A recently published government report calls for airports to be ‘far more proactive in improving passenger experience’ in a move which has been warmly welcomed by Bott and Co.
The House of Commons Transport Committee produced the report following major disruption at Gatwick Airport on Christmas Eve 2013. Flooding at the airport triggered a power failure, causing disruption for more than 11,000 passengers who faced delays and cancellations on 24th December last year.
The report criticises the way in which travellers were ‘left in the dark’ during the upset, with passengers unclear as to who was in charge or what they could be reimbursed for. Bott and Co say that in their experience, the poor communication uncovered by the investigation is not uncommon, with thousands of consumers coming to them reporting similar experiences.
We hope this report has been a wake-up call for the industry and signals the dawn of better service for consumers.
MPs involved in the report recommend passengers are ‘promptly reimbursed for the extra costs they face as a consequence of disruption’ and that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) speeds up plans to improve the flow of information to passengers about their rights in such situations. So what right do consumers have when faced with long delays or cancellations at the airport?
Regulation (EC) 261/2004 provides compensation for passengers in the event their flight is cancelled, delayed, they are rerouted, or they miss their connection. They are entitled to compensation if they reach their final destination more than three hours after the scheduled arrival time and may be able to claim up to €600 per passenger. The regulation applies to flights from the EU or to the EU or on-board an EU carrier.
EC261 also sets out passengers’ rights to assistance at the time of the delay itself, saying the carrier must provide meals and refreshments, overnight hotel accommodation (if necessary), transport between accommodation and the airport, and two free telephone calls or two fax or e-mail messages free of charge. Passengers’ entitlement to assistance and compensation will vary according to the distance of the flight and the length of delay.
Coby Benson, Technical Legal Manager at Bott and Co, says: “We are delighted to see MPs finally recognising passengers’ rights and taking an active interest in their welfare. We strongly support the government’s calls for more consistent information during what is often a very stressful time for travellers. We hope this report has been a wake-up call for the industry and signals the dawn of better service for consumers.”