Delayed air passengers fail to claim compensation

TENS of thousands of air passengers who suffered severe delays at Scotland’s busiest airports last summer failed to claim compensation totalling more than £15 million, new research shows.
Airlines are supposed to provide care and assistance like food and drink for longer delays. Picture: Phil WilkinsonAirlines are supposed to provide care and assistance like food and drink for longer delays. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Airlines are supposed to provide care and assistance like food and drink for longer delays. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Over 27,000 travellers at both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports were held up by more than two hours between June and September.

Airlines are required to provide “care and assistance” such as food and drink when flights are delayed by more than two hours.

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Passengers can claim compensation if they arrive more than three hours late.

However, claim firm AirHelp, which produced the research, said most passengers did not seek compensation, partly because of the hassle involved since airlines often dragged their heels over paying out.

The firm is one of several offering to pursue claims for passengers, and takes a 25 per cent fee from payouts, but is selective over which claims to pursue.

Last year, Edinburgh passengers most likely to be delayed by more than three hours were on United Airlines flights to New York and Chicago, Qatar Airways’ to Doha, and US Airways’ now-scrapped route to Philadelphia, according to the website.

That length of delay in arrival affected one in 50 of these airlines’ flights. Charter operator Thomson Airways had one in 70 flights at the airport delayed more than three hours.

At Glasgow, one in 50 of Icelandair’s flights to Reykjavik was delayed that long, along with that many of Air Transat’s flights, which operate to Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, and US Airways’ flights to Philadelphia.

Thomson and fellow charter firm Thomas Cook Airlines had one in 100 flights similarly delayed at Glasgow. Under European Union directive 261, passengers delayed for more than three hours are eligible for between £170 and £420 compensation, depending on the length of flight.

The highest level of payout is for passengers held up more than four hours.

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It applies to all flights from UK airports, and inbound flights on European airlines.

Passengers are not eligible for compensation if flights are delayed by bad weather, strikes or security alerts.

However, airlines can no longer reject claims for delays caused by technical faults with their aircraft, following a court ruling in England in February.

AirHelp UK manager Brian Whelan said: “The potential compensation available to Scottish air passengers is not to be sneezed at. Be prepared, know your rights and get the compensation you deserve.”

A spokesman for United Airlines said: “United apologises to customers for any inconvenience caused by delays affecting its flights to and from Scotland. We are taking steps to improve our operational reliability.”

Qatar Airways said punctuality on its Edinburgh route had “improved dramatically” since last year.

Thomas Cook Airlines said it was “dissatisfied with any delay” and working hard to improve performance, but the figures included “positioning” flights involving empty aircraft.

Thomson said: “We are proud of our performance record from both Edinburgh and Glasgow airport last year.”