This week, everyone is making ‘Catch Me If You Can’ trend again as a South African Airways pilot has been exposed as fraud. He had been flying without a licence for 25 years.

Senior first officer William Chandler was investigated after he made some strange turns over the Swiss Alps while flying the Johannesburg – Frankfurt route. The inquiry found out that he had been flying with a forged license for 25 years.

He had a pilot’s licence, but not one required to fly long haul international flights. What’s more, his licence would have required yearly tests – none of which he took. William Chandler even passed promotion to captain, as this would have required him to submit his license.

So what happens if your flight is cancelled because your pilot turns out to be a fake? Our experts tell us that you can still claim flight compensation. After all, an airline is very much responsible for ensuring that its pilots are, well, pilots. SAA has already suspended the officer that helped cover the fraud up and is getting all of their pilot licenses tested.

Pretender pilot or no, the passengers still have rights when facing cancelled flights or flight delays. Regulation (EC) 261/2004 rules that the airline has to provide you with free meals and drinks. You should also be allowed to make two free calls, use e-mail or send a free fax. If you have to wait for the flight for one or more nights, the carrier has to provide you with free accommodation at a hotel, including transport to/from the airport. In case they’re unable/unwilling to do this, save the receipts: all “rational” expenses (no VIP penthouses, caviar or limos) should be refunded afterwards. Read more here.

And let us not forget that “pilot is fraud”-type flight cancellation seems like it’s claimable under (EC) 261/2004. This means that you can get up to €600 in cancelled flight compensation! For more information about flight cancellation compensation (heh, it rhymes), check here.

Claim compensation now!

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