How do I sue an airline?
Recently, there has been an abundance of cancelled flights and chaos within many of the major airports within Europe and the UK. In particular, Spanish airports have been overburdened with a surplus of passengers due to the shortage of staff. The Local (es) news explained that about 15,000 passengers missed their connections at Madrid´s Barjas airport since March – which has caused further issues regarding the exceeded capacity within the terminals, and in many cases, it has forced flights to either suffer delays or take-off with a half empty aircraft.
Impact of Brexit
The influx of Spanish travelers occurred during Holy Week, or the period of Easter, where 3,000 passengers missed their flight at the main airport in Madrid due to the long queues. More recently, however, the Jubilee weekend, (the celebration of the Queen´s 70 years of service), caused an additional surge in the airport. It is a special time to travel because for British nationals, there was a four-day bank holiday. Therefore, La Vanguardia noted that this was one of the reasons for the recent increase of foreign travelers. In particular, 10,662 flights were scheduled from British airports to various tourist destinations, including Spain.
This surge is paramount to the chaos in the airport because of the way that English passengers travel through Europe has changed since the past. In 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union, in what was famously known as BREXIT. Consequently, all UK passengers must now pass-through EU passport controls because they are considered to be foreign passengers, as opposed as being able to enter directly as citizens pre-Brexit. Therefore, the UK passengers now have an extra hurdle, which contributes to the long queues within border control.
The airline industry, because of the COVID, is still facing repercussions from their staff shortages. Airlines UK, for example, employed about 74,000 people in 2019, however, as the BBC reported, they had to cut about 30,000 jobs since the start of pandemic. Similarly, in Swissport, its workforce was forced to be halved. This not only creates problems for unemployment rates, but it also creates additional problems for people waiting in the airports because the capacity in the queues prove to be overwhelming for current staff. This is illuminated with the inadequacy of training because many newly hired staff members have not been taught the proper protocol to deal with these extreme conditions within the airports.
What am I entitled to if my flight is Cancelled?
In Spain, passengers are encouraged to use all common services within the airport, as they are guaranteed as part of the airport tax when a ticket is purchased. Therefore, if the flight was cancelled and the passenger must stay overnight until the departure of a new flight, Aena, the manager of Spanish airports, or the airline the passenger is flying with, is required to make accommodations for the night. This includes covering a reasonable amount of meals during that time – often via vouchers/coupons, transport to and from the accommodation, and a way to communicate –typically covered by refunding the cost of calls. Thus, all passengers have rights to be provided for if the flight is severely delayed or cancelled.
Moreover, if the delay to the passenger´s final destination was three hours or more, then the passenger is entitled to compensation – unless the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstance (for example, adverse weather or security risks). According to EC 261/2004, passengers could recover compensation for delays between 250-600€, depending on the distance of their flight. Meaning, if a flight was more than 3,500km, the passengers are entitled to 600€, whereas if the distance was between 1,500-3,500km, the amount of compensation would be 400€. Furthermore, if the delayed amount was more than five hours and the passenger no longer wants to travel, the passenger may also be entitled to a full refund.
How do I ask for compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight?
EC 261/2004 is regulation in EU law that favours passengers and holds airlines financially accountable when there are errors within travelling that prove to be the airline´s fault. This applies to cancelled flights, delayed flights, or if the boarding was denied entirely. We will use this piece of legislation to advocate for your rights as a passenger. It is important to know that unless there were exceptional circumstances, airlines are legally and financially responsible for the flight issues. We expect that unless the staff shortages issue is addressed, the summer months and/or the winter holidays will continue to cause chaos within the airports and your flights will be affected.
Therefore, at Klev&Vera, we specialize in attending to the legal needs of international clients in Spain, and our expert English-speaking lawyers have successfully assisted many clients from all over the world with relevant legal matters. We offer the services of filing air claims on a contingency basis, and we will assist you to gain compensation, while we only receive a percentage of the total amount. We understand the frustration when travelling and we are here to support you in the event that something goes wrong. Passengers are not responsible for flight cancellations or delays and although there is an explanation for the cause of chaos within the airports, we are here to ensure that you are properly cared for during and after any altercating travel circumstances.
Written in collaboration with Mia Harrigton