4 Ways Airlines Try to Avoid Paying Flight Compensation

4 Ways Airlines Try to Avoid Paying Flight Compensation

There are a number of things that airlines say to avoid paying flight compensation to passengers inconvenienced by their company. In this article we’ll look at several real-world examples where Click2Refund has been awarded proper compensation for flight delays under European Union regulation 261/2004.

What is EU Regulation 261/2004?

Simply put, regulation 261/2004 protects and compensates travellers should their flight be delayed, cancelled, or they are denied boarding because their flight was overbooked.

This applies to flights that depart from a country of the European Union (EU), and all airlines registered within the EU. That includes layovers and connecting flights, too.

Click here to learn more about how much flight compensation you may be entitled to if your flight is:

  •  Delayed more than 3 hours
  •  Cancelled under 14 days before scheduled departure
  •  Overbooked and denied boarding
  •  Missed connection due to late landing

Things Airlines Say

It’s surprising how few people are able to get proper flight delay or cancellation compensation when they are entitled to it.

Is it a failure of those trying to navigate flight compensation regulations --or is it all the things airlines say that make it so incredibly difficult?

Many passengers assume that if they’re reading legalese, it’s legal. Especially from a massive airline with a legal team and support staff.

But what if it’s all just a bunch of legalese hot air intended to stave off rightful claim payments?

1. “Extraordinary Circumstances”

Most businesses understand and manage any number of liabilities day in and day out. From server malfunctions and data breaches to cold fries they can’t sell. This kind of “burn” is common in all industries, airline industry included. 

However, when called upon for refunds or compensation when a flight is delayed, cancelled, and/or a connecting flight is missed --airlines often cite “extraordinary circumstances” in what seem to be boilerplate ‘round one’ rebuttal form letters.

The cancellation was beyond our control and constitutes  "extraordinary circumstances". We took all the reasonable measures we could under the circumstances and made every effort to offer you care and assistance. Regulation (EC) 261/2004 does not require compensation in this event.

Although we respect your request for compensation, we're unable to honour your claim as your flight was delayed due to extraordinary circumstances. This is accordance with the European Court of Justice Verdict C- 546/07 Wallentin-Hermann.
Unfortunately, we're unable to cover the expenses claimed as we're not liable for such costs. For information regarding the legal basis for the reimbursement of financial losses in the event of a fight disruption, please see below.

In precious few cases “extraordinary circumstances” may get the airline off the hook. And as interpretations of flight compensation regulations continue to be clarified by new rulings, cases where passengers lose their claim due to extraordinary circumstances are becoming fewer and further between.

Some example claims of extraordinary circumstances where the airline still paid compensation via Click2Refund include the following;

Technical Problems

Technical problems that affect passengers are often issues that can lead to a successful flight delay claim, in spite of what airlines may tell passengers.

We regret to inform you that we have determined in this case that payment is not due.
We have come to this result as the flight in question was disrupted due to technical issues involving the aircraft, which in turn affected your client's route referred to in the case. Such an irregularity is considered as an extraordinary circumstance, which could not have been avoided if all reasonable measures had taken, as clarified by the European courts. 

In this case, the Huzar V Jet2 case decided whether airlines must pay compensation for delays caused by technical problems. 

Adverse Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions are often cited as a cause of flight delays and cancellations, whereby airlines often claim they do not have to pay compensation under EU regulations.

If it rains or snows, it does not necessarily mean conditions are inoperable for airlines. Weather isn’t meant to be a ‘catch-all’ for airlines to remove themselves from accountability to passengers.

In one case, British Airways appeared to skirt around their responsibility to claim that weather common at London Heathrow amounted to there being no guarantee any flight will depart --nor compensation provided in the event there are delays, or worse.

Your client's claim has been refused because Flight on 22 February was cancelled because of adverse weather conditions.
The most common reason for disruption at  London Heathrow is weather. The types of weather that have the biggest impact o airline operations are thunderstorms, fog, ice, snow and strong winds (both on the ground and on approach to the airport). When London Heathrow is affected by adverse weather Air Traffic Control reduce the number of flight departures and arrivals. Ground operations are also affected due to poor visibility and other safety issues. This results in delays and cancellations.
We take all reasonable measures to avoid disruption to a flight and we always consider if there are any other alternative solutions before we make decision. The cancellation was out our control and caused unforeseen disruption to our schedule.

2. ‘Goodwill’ Gesture

It’s very common for airlines to offer a “goodwill gesture” after claiming, in essence, that you have no right to claim compensation in your case. 

They may offer you less than you are entitled to, and they may try to give it to you as a voucher to keep your business in their brand ecosystem.

We understand the importance of flying our schedule as published, however, there are times when the unexpected will occur. Please know that in the process of providing air services over many different routes each day, we sometimes encounter mechanical problems, adverse weather, and other unavoidable interruptions. These are situations faced by all airlines and no carrier can guarantee that all flights will depart and arrive as planned.
As a goodwill gesture, I'm issuing Electronic Transportation Credit Vouchers for $50. You'll receive the voucher numbers and associated Term and Conditions in the separate email within 24 hours. (Check your spam folder if you don't see it in your inbox.) Please keep this email because you'll need the number to redeem voucher.

Customers who use their airline voucher likely wind up spending more money with the airline, and a large volume of vouchers are never redeemed. In these cases, the house wins.

Don’t Take the Voucher

Airlines may assume you don’t know your rights and accept a voucher if one is offered. However, a voucher isn’t cash, and airlines need your written permission to issue one as a substitute for what is rightly owed to you.

Article 7.3 of the EU Regulation 261/2004 clearly states that:

"The compensation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services."

The option for cash is always on the table. If you’re offered an airline voucher, compare that to what your claim might be worth by filling out this survey to ensure you’re getting the optimal payout.

3. They Say Nothing at All

Like any sub-prime borrower, an airline may have just overlooked your flight compensation claim and proverbially ‘forgot’ to get back to you. 

In many cases it is only the pressure to comply with regulations applied by a legal team like Click2Refund that will break the frigid silence a passenger may get from an airline. This presure is applied in the form of court procedures and enforcement of titles.

4. Wrong Point of Contact

Once a passenger has initiated an engagement with legal help to file their flight delay compensation claim, airlines may decide to open up communication with the passenger instead.

In these cases, the airline will employ the kind of tactics mentioned in each of the above points in an effort to lower the amount paid to the inconvenienced passenger(s).

If you choose to get help, make it clear to airlines that you’d prefer all communication regarding your claim to pass through your legal help.

In Summary

There are plenty of other ways airlines manage flight delay claims that don’t seem like they’re in the best interests of the passenger, although these are probably the most common.

If you are unsure of your rights as an airline passenger, fill out this survey to see if you qualify for flight compensation.

Written by: Michael Hulleman