Compensation for faulty IFE system
I recently flew economy class with Etihad Airways from Chicago to Lahore via Abu Dhabi. The IFE [in-flight entertainment] system on my seat malfunctioned despite the efforts of the crew to reset it. Because it was a full flight, I couldn’t be moved to another seat. And since the reading light could only be turned on using the remote control – which itself didn’t work – I couldn’t even read a book.
I can’t sleep on planes because I experience travel sickness. The 14 hours I spent in darkness, staring at the malfunctioning screen, were the most unpleasant of my life. After reporting the matter, Etihad offered 10,000 loyalty miles as compensation. Is this fair?
Mohsan Elahi, Rhode Island, US
Alex replies: All travellers will encounter IFE problems at some time. Reader feedback tells us that even the best airlines with the most up-to-date systems are not immune to IFE failure. But in airline legalise, IFE “does not form part of the contract”, which means they are not obliged to compensate passengers should anything go wrong with the system. However, normal practice is for staff to move passengers to a vacant seat where the IFE does function correctly.
When this is not possible, staff of some carriers will hand out compensation in the form of travel vouchers or bonus miles. With others, you may have to write in to complain and would then be offered something similar. So what Etihad gave you is par for the course.
Cloud-9 - 07/03/2013 16:50
You were lucky. I flew Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy and my IFE did not work. They offered to let me sit in Economy! I was offered £25 to spend on board - which I did not want to do - and asked to see the Flight Director. He was extremely aggressive and denied than any compensation had been offered to me.
However, it was the first and last time I have flown with Virgin.
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