Data provided by leading consumer law firm, Bott and Co, shows a spike in airlines defending claims, with many eligible for compensation. The firm also highlights the damning tactics airlines routinely use in an attempt to swerve paying out.
The firm has seen a year on year rise in the number of flight delay compensation claims they’ve issued court proceedings against airlines for on passengers’ behalf.
There’s been a 126% rise in the last two years in the number of claims that go all the way to court due to airlines dragging their feet. In 2018, Bott and Co had to issue court proceedings on 15,212 occasions, whereas in 2017, they drafted proceedings just over 12,000 times. The figure has more than doubled since 2016, when the firm needed court intervention on just 6,710 cases.
2018 stood out as the worst year for passengers trying to claim compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004. Not only were passengers forced to go to court 33% of the time but the need for enforcement action was at its highest. The law firm had to instruct bailiffs on over 771 cases within 12 months, a staggering leap from the 159 enforcements in 2017.
With just over a month to go until the New Year, 2019 is on track to closely aligning with last year for the amount of claims going to court; the figure currently stands at over 13,715.
86% of cases that Bott and Co issued court proceedings on between 2013 to 2017 have since settled. In 2018 alone, 70% of cases that went to court have since been settled although this is just a rough figure because many cases are still ongoing, so the number will continue to increase.
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.”
In 2018, the airline which Bott and Co had to issue the most court proceedings against was easyJet followed closely by TUI, which was also the airline with the majority of sheriff enforcements.
Benson continues, “EU Regulation 261/2004 was introduced in 2004 to protect passengers and act as a deterrent to prevent significant delays and cancellations occurring in the first place. Our success rate of winning these cases for passengers shows airlines are not accepting responsibility in the fair treatment of passengers. They are simply not abiding by the law.
While it could be considered inevitable that the number of delays and cancellations will rise as flight schedules and demand increases, there is no justification for airlines not paying passengers what they are legally entitled to.
These findings come just after the Bott and Co airline passenger rights survey, released in October 2019, revealed the various ways airlines are fobbing passengers off.
It brought to light the struggles passengers face. Of the 1,949 people who took part, 80% 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. Another example of these companies’ attitudes towards the regulation.”
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. 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.
All of the cases were claimable under EU Regulation 261/2004 and received compensation after Bott and Co were instructed.
Since 2014, Bott and Co has issued court proceedings for over 100,000 passengers who have been refused flight delay compensation or had their claims ignored by over 140 airlines.
Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co, played a vital role in establishing the regulation in the UK after he was affected by a delayed flight on the way home to Manchester in 2011. Like many, Mr Benson was ignored by the airline, even when he wrote to them as a solicitor.
His experience claiming drove Benson to work with Bott and Co in bringing EU Regulation 261/2004 over to the UK. Together, they led the way for millions of people who were potentially entitled to compensation.