Published on Monday, December 16, 2019

Airlines accused of dragging their feet over compensation claims

Airlines are being accused of dragging their feet over compensation and forcing more cases to go all the way to court.

Figures provided by law firm Bott and Co showed a 126% rise in the last two years of court proceedings issued against airlines, with figures for this year looking as bad.

In 2018, Bott and Co had to issue court proceedings on 15,212 occasions compared to just over 12,000 in 2017. The figure has more than doubled since 2016, when the firm needed court intervention on just 6,710 cases.

With just over a month to go the figure for 2019 currently stands at over 13,715. 

EasyJet was the airline which Bott and Co had to issue the most court proceedings against last year, followed closely by TUI, which was also the airline with the majority of sheriff enforcements.

Coby Benson, flight delay compensation solicitor at Bott and Co, said: "Tens of thousands of passengers are kept waiting every year for compensation they're entitled to because airlines refuse to pay. If adhered to, the regulation could dispel the need for solicitor intervention but airline behaviours are forcing passengers to seek legal help.

"The latest figures show that even when solicitors are involved it's not plane sailing and that there is the need for proceedings to be issued and in some instances, bailiff involvement."

The law firm had to instruct bailiffs on over 771 cases within 12 months, a sharp rise from the 159 enforcements in 2017. 

The findings come after the Bott and Co airline passenger rights survey, released in October, revealed the various ways airlines are fobbing off passengers.

Of the 1,949 people who took part, 80% said they had to contact the airline more than once before giving up and instructing solicitors to intervene.

"We often see airlines defending claims where other passengers on the same flight have already been paid out," said Benson.

The survey revealed that 38% of airlines didn't respond to passengers within a month of hearing from them when they are legally obliged to do so.

Bott & Co said nearly 60% of people were told they couldn't claim due to extraordinary circumstances, when in fact they could.

The most popular excuse given by airlines to not pay compensation was bad weather conditions (40%), followed by technical problems (23%).

Other excuses given were crew/staff sickness, delay on a previous flight and crew out of allocated working hours.

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