The anguish caused to the unfortunate holidaymakers who had their flights cancelled and delayed during half-term is enough to put anyone off flying this summer. Amid the pandemonium, the country rejoiced when a TUI co-pilot climbed out of his cockpit to load luggage on a flight that was delayed by more than 30 hours.
Yesterday the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee heard evidence from airline bosses, unions and aviation industry bodies about the delays and cancellations. The aim was to try and understand what was causing the problems and to consider possible solutions.
Simon Calder, travel journalist, gave evidence that airlines and travel agents are falling short in communication to travellers and more assistance should be provided to consumers early on. Overbooking and overpromising were found to be common problems amongst all airlines.
Consumers who experience a delay of three or more hours or consumers who have their flight cancelled less than 14 days before the date of travel may be entitled to compensation depending on the reason for the delay or cancellation.
However, evidence was given that people entitled to compensation have struggled to pursue their rights with some consumers waiting months and even years to receive the compensation. Due to the complex and sometimes unclear process, it is estimated that only 38% of those entitled to receive compensation pursue a claim.
Within the proposals it was suggested that more information should be provided upfront and the information should be consumer focussed. The Department for Transport has advised that it will look into setting up a statutory ombudsman for this sector, something which is well overdue.
Ultimately, it will take time to rebuild trust and confidence in the aviation industry. However, this is a sector where consumers should be clear on what their rights are.
If you have any questions at all regarding flight delay and compensation, please do not hesitate to contact us.