While the aviation industry keeps expanding, its shortcomings are only getting worse – Eurocontrol 2017 data reveals increasing flight delays. Stuck in Barcelona waiting for her Vueling flight, Selin recounts herself and fellow stranded travellers to be stressed and anxious over their plans for the next day, while for some the accumulating tension was too hard to bear.
Travelling from Barcelona to Ibiza to meet her friend, Selin was disappointed to hear about the delay. Yet her feelings only worsened when the airline dug its heels and withdrew from further communication: “The most annoying part was being unaware of what happened. The staff was very unprofessional not giving us updates and neither I nor other travellers knew how long we were supposed to wait,” says Selin.
With Vueling’s staff ignorance towards passengers’ feelings, the atmosphere quickly got grim. By not taking action to control the worsening mood, the carrier had paved the way for worsening situation. Selin says “It was a really bad atmosphere and people were very angry. Two passengers even had a fight inside the plane, which I believe was a result of stress and tiredness.”
After a while travellers were finally informed that the delay was caused by a “technical issue” and given a €50 discount for the next flight as an apology. Yet Selin was not satisfied with the gift, “The voucher was applicable only to a restricted number of flights and it had a short expiration term”.
The European law obliges carriers to pay out flight compensation ranging from €250 to €600 and provide assistance in the event of overbooking, cancellation and a delay of more than 3 hours. Airlines must inform stranded passengers about their right to flight compensation, but Vueling has tried to trick the exhausted travellers into a deceitful €50 vouchers instead. Selin was lucky enough to know about her right to a proper payout, thus for her negative emotions were easier to endure, “Only if people would know their rights, disrupted flights would not be so stressful.”
“Every disruption which airline claims to be technical is worth double-checking. According to the stats, only 0,6% of all flight disruptions are caused by a claimable technical issue also known as manufacturing error. Too often airlines try to assimilate all disturbances as “extraordinary circumstances” which exempt them from their liability towards the air passenger rights,” explained Marius Stonkus, the CEO of flight compensation company SKYCOP. “The airline has to prove that the technical issue could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures, including both financial and material, were taken. This means that only hidden manufacturing defects can excuse the carrier from liability.”
Selin was happy to hear that it took less than a month for flight compensation company Skycop to get her delayed flight compensated. M. Stonkus says, “Each case is very different. Depending on the difficulties we face, for example, airline refusing to respond, the claim period may vary from a few weeks to a year.”