'Beyond our control' Really?

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Henryp1 14 Sep 2016
at 09:48
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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)

  • FDOS_UK
    Participant

    Thursday last, I sat on the ground on a flight from LHR to MAN for an hour, whilst an ill lady, her doctor and family were offloaded and their baggage retrieved.

    I sincerely hope that the lady is feeling better (she didn’t look at all well) and is on the mend. Obviously, her health is more important than me missing my rail connection and I don’t think anyone on the aircraft had any thoughts other than concern for her (although the subsequent finding and offloading of baggage seemed leisurely – it took ~40 minutes, to say the least and that did annoy me).

    But this incident got me thinking.

    Airlines are very quick to disclaim any responsibility for incidents ‘beyond our control’ or claiming that circumstances are extraordinary.

    If an airline boards a passenger accompanied by a doctor (which suggests a non-trivial and pre-known condition), is this really a valid excuse anymore? Yes, the patient will have been assessed as fit to travel, but if they take a turn for the worse is that really so unexpected as to be classified as ‘extraordinary’? Surely there is a known and clear risk, however low the probability?

    From a personal angle, TransPennine Express has a ‘flat tyre’ policy on Airport Advance tickets, so I was reaccommodated on a train that left an hour after my originally scheduled service, which was the 1400 service (the flight was scheduled to arrive at 1255).

    But if another passenger had mis-connected at MAN and been delayed long enough to qualify for EC261, I wonder if the airline would have pleaded extraordinary circumstances and if it had done, would others feel that is a reasonable reposnse? I’m not sure I would.

    Once again, this is a hypothetical question and I hope the ill lady is recovering.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Along the same lines, why cant we claim for the delays caused by the protesters who managed to close LCY last week OR against the speeding driving that crashes and causes the motorway to be closed.. all “consequential losses”, which are simply not covered by insurers. I don’t think the airlines should be held accountable for the results of an offloaded passenger (whatever the reasons). In certain circumstances though, I believe the individual should be held accountable (but NOT where an illness is concerned).


    Flightlevel
    Participant

    We might be able to claim against the airport operator in the case of bad security though there is no such regulation at the moment and we leave the EU soon! There should be no claim against a sick pax – it could be you one day! To unload luggage for several pax however should only take 10-20 minutes (time that they may catch up in the air) probably the airline made a late decision to unload – that’s their delay & should be liable to a claim?


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    We might be able to claim against the airport operator in the case of bad security though there is no such regulation at the moment and we leave the EU soon! There should be no claim against a sick pax – it could be you one day! To unload luggage for several pax however should only take 10-20 minutes (time that they may catch up in the air) probably the airline made a late decision to unload – that’s their delay & should be liable to a claim?

    Flightlevel, of course there should be no claim against any sick passenger, I’m not suggesting that and having just re-read my opening post, I cannot see why you would think I am arguing that – my only feelings towards the passenger are concern and a hope that she is better now, than on Thursday.

    A passenger becoming suddenly sick in the air is one thing, a passenger with a known illness, accompanied by a doctor, who takes a turn for the worse is another and the responsibility lies with the airline, not the pax.

    When an airline takes the risk of boarding a passenger who is sick enough to require a doctor to travel with them, to my way of thinking it becomes a business risk (like choosing not to have standby crew in some stations) and if things go wrong, the airline should be on the hook for the liquidated damages of passengers affected. I just can’t see why they can then claim ‘beyond our control’ (no it wasn’t, you knew the situation and chose to allow travel) or ‘extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken’. The fact that the passenger became ill before the doors were even closed suggests that all reasonable measures (such as transporting the passenger by road ambulance) were not taken.


    EUFlyer
    Participant

    Apologies if this has already been suggested. Surely the airline could load the sick passenger’s luggage last so that it can be offloaded within minutes? Basic mitigation.


    MrMichael
    Participant

    If a passenger is so sick as to require a doctor with them then I would have thought an Air Ambulance would be more appropriate than a passenger flight. To require a doctor to be with you suggests an element of intensive care. A
    well equipped air ambulance can deal with almost all situations short of open heart surgery, a scheduled passenger flight is inappropriate. I therefore take the view that any delay or diversion is a foreseeable issue and by accepting the situation (assuming the airline knew of this) they are responsible. So I take the view the airline should pay out under EC261. The airline took the risk of carrying them, has to take the hit of delays due to their decision. Whatever happened to the T&C “fit to travel”. I would suggest that if one needs to be accompanied by a doctor then one isn’t fit to travel.

    I too hope the lady makes a recovery, but whoever thought it was a great idea to put her on the flight in the first place needs their head examined.


    canucklad
    Participant

    Hopefully Brexit won’t mean the loss of accountability and we’ll maintain an equivalent scheme.

    Consider yourself lucky FDOS
    My mate routed via DXB on our recent lads trip to HK. He chose an EK flight that landed shortly after our QR flight.
    Arriving early and through effortlessly,just to find a 4 hour delay on his flight. Like good mates,we deserted him and headed straight to DB.
    Finally at 3 in the morning he arrives exasperated. Plane already taxing has to return to offload sick passenger. Plane taxis again an 90 minutes later….Bing….” Ladies and gentlemen you’re not going to believe this”….And back to the gate they went! My mate reckons the 2nd illness was caused by the oppressive heat in the cabin whilst they attended to the first passenger.

    On the suggestion of the possibility of liability being pushed onto the speeding driver/ sick passenger etc…I’d ask if we’d be prepared for a substantial increase in our travel insurance premiums.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    If a passenger is so sick as to require a doctor with them then I would have thought an Air Ambulance would be more appropriate than a passenger flight. To require a doctor to be with you suggests an element of intensive care. A
    well equipped air ambulance can deal with almost all situations short of open heart surgery, a scheduled passenger flight is inappropriate. I therefore take the view that any delay or diversion is a foreseeable issue and by accepting the situation (assuming the airline knew of this) they are responsible. So I take the view the airline should pay out under EC261. The airline took the risk of carrying them, has to take the hit of delays due to their decision. Whatever happened to the T&C “fit to travel”. I would suggest that if one needs to be accompanied by a doctor then one isn’t fit to travel.

    I too hope the lady makes a recovery, but whoever thought it was a great idea to put her on the flight in the first place needs their head examined.

    For once, we are in complete agreement 🙂 and you express my thoughts eloquently.

    As to the reasons why, I reflect that when I lived in Malta, my nieghbour opposite was on the panel for insurance companies and would often complain that insurers would seek the cheapest ways of doing things and he had to have stand up arguments to look after the patients best interests – not sayng this is the case in this example, but you never know.


    MrMichael
    Participant

    @canucklad, surely we pay either way. I am not a big fan of EC261 on the basis that it just pushed airfares up anyway, I think in the case of the likes of Ryanair it is ridiculous. How can a flight of 2 hours that cost the passenger £9.99 get damages of hundreds of pounds for a 4 hour delay, it is not proportionate. Having said that, it does focus the mind of the airlines to be a lot more reliable with their timetables, albeit gate to gate times have now been extended to give the airlines significantly more wriggle room.

    With FDOS’s example surely someone should pay. I know it was not a significant delay, but let’s say it rather than a delay at the gate resulted in a diversion. The costs to the airline would be considerable, people missing connections, people having to pay more for parking as they waited arrivals at the intended destination, people missing important appointments, the list and expense is endless. So I do believe as in most things in life someone is responsible…it was not an act of God the lady was ill on the flight. Someone, somewhere took that decision, her decision perhaps, the airlines, the doctor, an insurance company….I don’t know who. What I do know is that it was inappropriate for that woman to be on that flight if she needed such intensive care and monitoring….and someone is responsible for that….and they should pay.


    JohnHarper
    Participant

    In years gone by Mrs JH who was then a nurse used to do some medical escort work when the children were small and part time work was the best solution.

    I remember and reading this she has confirmed that in the case of BA every case had to be discussed extensively with BA’s doctors (they were employed by the airline) who were very exacting in the information they required about the stability of the patient, their medical history and prognosis. Documentation was required to justify everything that was said and only then did BA approve or not the journey.

    Of course no doubt now the doctors are a thing of the past and in all probability a bit of information is fed into a computer with software designed by the same people as the check in system with all the same reliability issues by some employee in India and the software decides that someone may fly or not.

    The person making the decision on fitness to fly is responsible not the patient who in this case I do hope is now better.

    ABBA – more justified every day.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    @canucklad, surely we pay either way. I am not a big fan of EC261 on the basis that it just pushed airfares up anyway, I think in the case of the likes of Ryanair it is ridiculous.

    MrMichael

    I don’t know if you realise, but Ryanair make a charge of 2-3€ per flight to cover their EC261 costs.

    One can either take the view that this is outrageous or on the other hand a very cheap insurance policy for the pax – I tend to take the latter view.

    The EC also realised that 261 could lift prices, but believed it was in the interests of the consumer to have the regulation in place and the Ryanair situation, for me at least, is a win-win.


    PeterCoultas
    Participant

    Am in agreement with MrMichael: Essentially the EU directives are too “broad brush”. More realistic compensation levels would be
    1, a 2-4 hour delay that did not cause a connection to be missed say the return of half the ticket price paid if on a single or 25% of the price of a return
    2, longer delay 100% price return (one way ticket) or 50% price return for a round trip ticket

    IF connections are missed then the first available flight to the destination (regardless of on what airline) and hotel/food allowances/provision in the meantime.

    Such a system would, of course impact legacy carriers more than LCCs but then the legacy charge higher prices….certainly airlines with a pile of first class travellers would have a big incentive to be on time…

    When/if Brexit occurs there are all sorts of options for flight delays that Mrs May could put in place (oh dear if it were her suggestions they almost certainly wouldn’t work)


    gavin bland
    Participant

    After being a long time lurker on here so have decided to reply to this post to give some insight and clarity into this situation as some of the responses here from astute business people are outstanding.
    I have worked as a flight nurse for 25 years, I am one of the most experienced civilian inflight medical escorts in the UK and have repatriated more than 1200 patients worldwide by commercial airlines and air ambulances.
    Firstly before any passenger is allowed to fly on any of the major carriers, medical clearance needs to be granted by the airline medical department ( is BA Emirates Lufthansa etc) this clearance is given only after consideration of the patient’s condition by medical staff on behalf of the airline and in conjunction with published IATA and aeromedical guidelines. The number of diversions with medically escorted patients is minuscule in comparison with non escorted travellers. Doctors and nurses escorting patients by air also have a professional responsibility to satisfy themselves that patients are fit to fly before commencing
    the repatriation.

    People talk about having good insurance policies. Yes your annual £150 policy covers you for £10 million pounds of medical expenses but that doesn’t mean you get an air ambulance just because you ask for if. The insurers will cover medical necessity and repatriate in a safe but cost effective manner.
    Bear in mind that people are often stranded abroad in sub standard hospitals often with bewildered elderly companions and language problems. what is supposed to happen you don’t risk assess and leave people to fester in such places until they can travel back unescorted. alternatively move everyone by air ambulance but your insurance policy will cost 1000s per year so no one will be
    able to afford it.
    Air ambulances are cramped, uncomfortable, significantly impacted by turbulence and often need multiple tech stops on longer journeys – they are not the answer to everything. in almost 1200 repatriations I have had 1 person did during an air ambulance flight and one collapse and die an hour after a zcheduled flight. hopefully this puts things in perspective.


    Henryp1
    Participant

    After being a long time lurker on here so have decided to reply to this post to give some insight and clarity into this situation as some of the responses here from astute business people are outstanding.
    I have worked as a flight nurse for 25 years, I am one of the most experienced civilian inflight medical escorts in the UK and have repatriated more than 1200 patients worldwide by commercial airlines and air ambulances.
    Firstly before any passenger is allowed to fly on any of the major carriers, medical clearance needs to be granted by the airline medical department ( is BA Emirates Lufthansa etc) this clearance is given only after consideration of the patient’s condition by medical staff on behalf of the airline and in conjunction with published IATA and aeromedical guidelines. The number of diversions with medically escorted patients is minuscule in comparison with non escorted travellers. Doctors and nurses escorting patients by air also have a professional responsibility to satisfy themselves that patients are fit to fly before commencing
    the repatriation.

    People talk about having good insurance policies. Yes your annual £150 policy covers you for £10 million pounds of medical expenses but that doesn’t mean you get an air ambulance just because you ask for if. The insurers will cover medical necessity and repatriate in a safe but cost effective manner.
    Bear in mind that people are often stranded abroad in sub standard hospitals often with bewildered elderly companions and language problems. what is supposed to happen you don’t risk assess and leave people to fester in such places until they can travel back unescorted. alternatively move everyone by air ambulance but your insurance policy will cost 1000s per year so no one will be
    able to afford it.
    Air ambulances are cramped, uncomfortable, significantly impacted by turbulence and often need multiple tech stops on longer journeys – they are not the answer to everything. in almost 1200 repatriations I have had 1 person did during an air ambulance flight and one collapse and die an hour after a zcheduled flight. hopefully this puts things in perspective.

    Great response, many thanks for professional and expert feedback it really does help understanding what really happens or should happen in these circumstances. It has really explained what causes problems. I wouldn’t want to see my insurance increase substantially though.

    Now that you’ve posted it would be good to see more of you here, insightful posts are really appreciated, flights allowing that is.

    Henry

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