A group of friends have instructed Bott and Co to act on their behalf against TUI after seeing a recommendation on Money Saving Expert, when the airline refused to pay them compensation for a flight delay on their way home from their annual Spanish holiday.
The airline said that the delay was less than three hours, despite EU Regulation 261/2004 saying the time is based on when the doors open.
The group was adamant that the doors opened after more than three hours, and this paid off when each passenger received compensation which they have now put towards their 2019 trip later this year.
Fiesta Fun Fizzles Out
Michael Pelton from Crawley, West Sussex, and his friends have been going to Spain for the annual fiesta week for the last 30 years.
Michael said: “We’ve been loyal TUI customers for years, always booking with them. After a relaxing and enjoyable week, we arrived at Alicante Airport to head home to London Gatwick Airport on 20 November 2018.
We tried speaking to handling agents who weren’t interested in assisting us. They said it wasn’t their responsibility and only TUI could help
We checked in and went through to airside when we found out there would be a delay. It kept showing as delayed and we didn’t know how long we’d be waiting so we started to look for TUI representatives but there were none around to help.
We weren’t able to go back to landside so we had no choice but to wait around for our flight to be called. We had no indication how long we would be delayed for, we were like sitting ducks.”
The group weren’t offered any care and assistance, including obligatory food vouchers after two hours.
“We tried speaking to handling agents who weren’t interested in assisting us. They said it wasn’t their responsibility and only TUI could help.
Most of our party had taxis waiting but these had to be cancelled and rebooked. It was an inconvenience.”
TUI (Apparently) Cares
“During the delay, we weren’t fully aware of our rights to compensation. I had a vague idea about compensation regulations but nothing specific; it was only when they prompted me to look into it that I took action.
After each trip, the TUI aftercare team in the group booking department gets in touch to ask how the holiday was. On this occasion I mentioned the delay and they gave me details of their compensation scheme.”
The regulation stipulates that the time of the delay should be calculated from when doors are opened after landing; however airlines often tell passengers that it is when the plane lands on the runway.
Michael wrote to TUI but didn’t receive a response within the time allocated under the regulation. He wrote again and was then told the delay was less than three hours and therefore they weren’t entitled to compensation.
“I disputed their response citing the law with specific times we had noted down during the delay but heard nothing. Months went by and I went on the Money Saving Expert website for further information and saw that Bott and Co was highly recommended.
It should have been pretty simple, we write to them requesting the compensation and they write back accepting it.”
Compensation Put To Good Use
Bott and Co were able to secure the group compensation for their delay of over three hours, as there were no circumstances that led the firm to believe the reasons were due to an extraordinary circumstance. The firm’s data also revealed that the delay was indeed more than three hours, contrary to what TUI told Michael.
“They were just trying it on, hoping I’d believe them and go away. The way we were treated by TUI was not fair and so this year’s holiday has not been booked through TUI. We’ve booked the accommodation direct and flights separate with British Airways. Most of us spent the compensation we received through Bott and Co on this year’s trip to Spain.”
Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co said: “What’s interesting is that at the time of the delay, Mr Pelton was not fully aware of his rights and therefore wouldn’t have pursued compensation had TUI not mentioned it. He then followed the correct procedure, having researched and found that his delay matched the criteria needed for a compensation claim. TUI then turned around and said that the delay was less than three hours.
The regulation stipulates that the time of the delay should be calculated from when doors are opened after landing; however airlines often tell passengers that it is when the plane lands on the runway. We were able to get this group compensation after validating that the doors didn’t open until after the three hour delay mark had passed.”
Michael said: “I’m the organiser and do all the booking and if this year’s trip goes to plan and is a success then we will be doing it separately again and not reverting back to TUI or using them again unless we have to.”
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*Based on 10,211 court proceedings issued between May 2013 and February 2016.