Jean Johnson, 65, a receptionist from Failsworth, Manchester has spoken of how her son Adam’s 21st birthday celebrations in Hong Kong were thrown into uncertainty back in July 2013 when their connecting Finnair flight from Helsinki was cancelled.
Jean was travelling with Adam and her husband Harold, 67, for a once in a lifetime trip to watch Adam’s favourite team Manchester City play in a football tournament, but after arriving in Helsinki from Manchester, their connecting flight to Hong Kong was cancelled. In the end, they didn’t arrive until Adam’s actual birthday, which tainted his special day as the family was left exhausted and jet lagged. Finnair claimed that the reason for the cancellation was a technical error, and therefore not claimable as it constituted an “extraordinary circumstance“.
People affected by a cancelled flight should ensure that they are re-routed at the earliest available opportunity under comparable transport conditions.
Bott and Co recovered 600 Euros each in flight delay compensation for Jean, Harold and Adam under EU Regulation 261/2004, after attempts to recover compensation from Finnair itself and then the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were unsuccessful. When Bott and Co took the claim on, Finnair didn’t respond to court proceedings, therefore because they didn’t defend the claim on time, compensation was due.
It is especially fortunate that the family received the remuneration they were legally entitled to as they were very close to the limitation period i.e. the cut off point for claiming.
Many passengers are still unaware of the fact they have up to six years from the date of the flight to claim. As Jean’s cancellation was in July 2013, she was just about within the timeframe set by EU Regulation 261/2004.
Jean said: “Bott and Co provided us with an excellent service. We were more than impressed, and after two failed attempts it’s money we didn’t expect to receive.”
Bedlam At Helsinki Airport
When the Johnsons disembarked their first flight in Helsinki on 19th July 2013, they were told that their connecting flight to Hong Kong was cancelled due to a technical error. Jean remembers feeling extremely frustrated as there was no further information given, they were just shipped off to a hotel overnight.
The Civil Aviation Authority was talking in riddles, they don’t put anything simply. I thought they would be more helpful as an official body. We were left completely in the dark about our rights.
Jean says, “It was absolute bedlam at Helsinki Airport. We were shuffled from pillar to post and nothing was clear. Everyone was just walking around demanding answers and having to ask for food vouchers. We even had to get a taxi to the hotel as Finnair didn’t provide a coach.”
“There were no Finnair representatives offering help at the airport, but when passengers sought help from a lady working on the Finnair helpdesk, she was extremely rude.”
To further confuse the situation, Finnair even offered the Johnsons a £200 voucher to spend on future travel with the airline – but when the family tried to use it for flights to Florida the next year, Finnair said it wasn’t permitted.
Finally In Hong Kong – But Exhausted And Jet Lagged
The Johnsons finally landed in Hong Kong over 12 hours late, and on Adam’s actual birthday. Jean says, “The delay ruined Adam’s day. To be flying for eight hours the day you turn 21 isn’t ideal. We’d planned it for so long – it put a dampener on the whole trip
Luckily, Adam did arrive in Hong Kong in time to watch the Blues, but it wasn’t as thrilling as it should have been due to his extreme tiredness.
“The Civil Aviation Authority Was Talking In Riddles”
First and foremost after returning home to Manchester, Jean wrote to Finnair requesting for flight delay compensation, but the excuse given was that the cancellation was due to a technical error, therefore an “extraordinary circumstance” and not claimable.
After being knocked back by the airline when trying to claim compensation, Jean approached the CAA, the UK’s specialist aviation regulator for advice as to the next steps. But she was left less than enthused by them: “The Civil Aviation Authority was talking in riddles, they don’t put anything simply. I thought they would be more helpful as an official body. We were left completely in the dark about our rights.”
Bott And Co Scores €1800 Compensation For The Family
Shedding light on the situation, Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co says, “People affected by a cancelled flight should ensure that they are re-routed at the earliest available opportunity under comparable transport conditions. Passengers should be entitled to be re-routed with any airline and it is the operating airline’s responsibility to assist their passengers, even if it means booking them on a replacement flight with a rival airline.
“According to EU Regulation passengers should place a claim when delays or cancellations are within the airlines control or inherent in the day to day running of an airline, which does include technical faults.
People Can Still Claim Compensation Over The Past Six Years
“People can also claim up to 600 Euros for delays and cancellations dating back six years which are over three hours and not considered ‘extraordinary.’” Benson continues.
After attempts to claim with Finnair and the CAA came to nothing, it was a case of third time lucky for Jean after she enlisted Bott and Co’s help. Finnair didn’t respond to court proceedings, therefore because they didn’t defend the claim on time, compensation was due. Jean, Adam and Harold were awarded 600 Euros each. “I was so pleased and impressed. When we received the cheques we were just delighted. I would definitely recommend Bott and Co’s services to anyone else. And I’d never travel with Finnair again!”
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*Based on 10,211 court proceedings issued between May 2013 and February 2016.