Finnair and the EU261 dodge.

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This topic contains 42 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  capetonianm 18 Sep 2017
at 11:47
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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 44 total)

  • rferguson
    Participant

    I know there has been a lot about BA and their compensation obligations lately so I thought i’d post about another airline that seems to jump through hoops to get itself out of coughing up – Finnair.

    I recently flew Finnair on their A350 from LHR to HEL with a connection on to Tallin.

    The first sector – AY832 – from LHR to HEL was delayed resulting in me missing my connection in HEL. It had a small LIAC delay from HEL then was further delayed on the ground at LHR. Although there was another HEL-TLL flight that would have had me arrive within the -non compensation’ threshold that flight was full and I had no option but to be rebooked on the first available flight with a seat which had me arriving over four hours later than schedule.

    The following day I lodged my claim on Finnair.com for what I thought would be a straight forward cut and dried case for compensation. Not so. Firstly, I had to chase Finnair for over six weeks. Then when they finally did ‘resolve’ the case – DENIED. Their ‘extraordinary’ reason – Air Traffic Control.

    The laughable thing about their ‘extraordinary’ reason (besides ATC delays at hub airport being neither extraordinary or unforseen) is that they on a long haul wide bodied A350 operating into one of the most congested airports in the world they schedule a turnaround time of ONE HOUR TEN MINUTES. Insanity. Then they have the cheek to say that they cannot pay compensation due to ATC delays.

    I replied to Finnair that ATC delays at LHR are as regular as the sun rising each morning. They are not unforseen. And that airlines should factor in adequate block and turnaround times when operating into known congested airports. Scheduling an A350 with a turnaround time of 1hr10min is just an absolute mis managed joke on the side of Finnair.

    It is actually more the principle at stake for me than the money now. I find it disgusting that airlines will try and fob people off with valid claims – the problem is i’m sure more than 50% of people that will receive such a response will shrug their shoulders and give up.

    I’ve lodged a claim with the CAA and will also pursue a case via the small claims court.

    If anyone has any hints, get in touch!


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    Unfortunately, I think you may be on thin ice, here. This is annoying and I agree with you that there is far too much fobbing off, but ATC delays are classed as extraordinary circumstances and I’d hate to see you waste money on a failed MCOL claim.

    If I were you, I’d enter your flight details into this checking app and see what it says

    The UK’s No.1 Flight Delay Compensation Service

    It is usually accurate in determining if the claim looks solid.

    Best of luck.


    capetonianm
    Participant

    The UK’s No.1 Flight Delay Compensation Service :

    Our outstanding success rate at winning flight delay claims which means you can rest assured that you’re in capable hands. When we do successfully settle your case we retain 25% + VAT of the total compensation amount plus a £25 per passenger administration fee.

    That’s fair enough but I feel more than capable of fighting my own battle, in this case with LH. I agree completely with rferguson.

    It is actually more the principle at stake for me than the money now. I find it disgusting that airlines will try and fob people off with valid claims – the problem is i’m sure more than 50% of people that will receive such a response will shrug their shoulders and give up.

    The best tip for anyone trying to pursue a claim against an airline is to make sure you have your facts correct, then don’t give up. Usually the first approach gets a brush-off, the rebuttal of that gets a poor offer, typically 50% of the compensation due and the third attempt, or threat of legal action in the County Court, produces the full compensation.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    That’s fair enough but I feel more than capable of fighting my own battle, in this case with LH. I agree completely with rferguson.

    I’m not suggesting that RF uses Bott and Co, but that he looks on their database to see if they show any data relevant to his flights.

    Unfortunately, ATC induced delays are considered extraordinary circumstances, so one has to be very careful before issuing an MCOL, as it may fail.

    It may be that he has a valid claim, for whatever reason, but investing 2-3 minutes in looking could save a lot of time assembling a pleading, frustration if the case is lost and a little money in the form of MCOL fees.

    The carrier is Finnair by the way, not Lufthansa.


    rferguson
    Participant

    Thanks for the replies gents.

    FDOS -I checked the website you recommended and it searched a number of factors that day (weather etc) and the result was it believed I’m entitled to compensation.

    What galls me about Finnairs ‘extraordinary’ claim about ATC is that they are basing it on a delayed arrival of just 50 minutes. The rest of the delay was incurred on the ground during the woefully scheduled 1hr10min turnaround time which was now effectively twenty minutes or ATC delays on previous days sectors.

    The way I read ‘extraordinary circumstances’ in relation to ATC is that when they are extraordinary (hellooo what is says on the tin). For example, ATC restrictions so severe that entire sectors of airspace were closed, closed airports, diverted flights etc. Not the daily run of the mill LHR/HKG grind. These are factors completely within AY’s control – schedule realistic minimum connecting times and same for turnaround times.

    Anyway, I did some digging. The aircraft that operated my flight on the 12th was A350, registration OH-LWC. I’ve gone back and tracked the aircrafts movements.

    On the 11th May the aircraft operated HKG-HEL. The aircraft had arrived on time in HKG from HEL but on the return sector to HEL had an ATC delay. The aircraft left HKG 2hr5min late arriving in HEL 1hr46min late the following day, 12 May. Again – ATC delays of this nature in Chinese airspace are almost daily and definitely not ‘extraordinary’. So, the aircraft arrived in HEL 1hr46min late and then operated HEL-LHR 1hr5min late arriving into LHR 53min late. Obviously the turnaround time in LHR Finnair has built in is too short for such an aircraft so the delay grew.

    Reading other forums about Finnair and it’s response to EU261 claims it seems that this is the way Finnair pretty much responds to EVERY claim for compensation – refuse at the onset. It’s in really poor form.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    RF

    If I were you (I can say I’d advise you, as I’m not qualified to), I would now wrtie to Finnair and ask them for a detailed explanation of why the delay was extraordinary circumstances.

    Article 5.3 “3. An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

    Now you will notice that this article is about cancellation, not delay. EU261 does not actually oblige airlines to pay out compensation for delays, but a court ruling (known as the Sturgeon case – see https://europeanlawblog.eu/2012/11/06/cjeu-confirms-sturgeon-compensation-due-also-for-delayed-flights/) says any delay over three hours is effectively a cancellation and pays out under article 7.

    Now this is where I get unsure…. I know that an ATC delay on the previous rotation can be used as extraordinary circumstances and the airline would be off the hook – but the rotation before the rotation? and at home base, where the airline may be expected to have some spare capacity. I really don’t know, but good luck – I’m with you on this one.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    I had an EU261 claim rejected after I was delayed HKG-LHR-AMS back in Dec 16. Leaving HKG there were ATC delays over China due to weather. Arrived in AMS 4 hours + late as I missed my connection at Heathrow…

    Claim refused as ATC delays were in the get out clause…


    rferguson
    Participant

    Thanks guys.

    Martynsinclair – out of curiosity did you challenge the airlines refusal to pay your claim?

    My main beef is as FDOS alludes to – what is ‘extraordinary’. I guess if weather is so severe and unpredicted that an entire sector of ATC needs to be closed then perhaps. But ATC restrictions over china are so routine (China restricts a lot of airspace to the military) it is hardly extraordinary these days. Also the fact that the flight that experienced the brunt of the ATC restriction was quite far down the line from my own.

    The planned turnarounds are not great enough to ever make up for a delay and so it just rolls.
    The HKG – HEL flight is due to arrive in HEL at 06:00 and then depart again to London at 08:00. And then once the aircraft arrives in London it is scheduled to be on the ground for just one hour ten minutes before being airborne again. Two hours turnaround at a home base after a long haul flight is cutting in fine enough when everything is running on time. An hour and ten minutes for a long haul aircraft at a congested airport is a joke. The rolling delays can never be caught up. And Finnair should be prudent to either program longer turnaround in or stump up the cash in compensation in the event their greedy air time for their jets falls short.

    Edited to add – I just used the website FDOS suggested to check the validity of a claim for AY070 HKG-HEL on the date my aircraft flew that sector. The website confirms validity for a claim after ‘checking’. I’m not sure how reliable it is in terms of validating or what the validation process involves (it states checking weather, legal validity) but if it says one is entitled to compensation for the sector that actually incurred the ATC delay they are really out of order denying one three sectors down the line.


    mkcol74
    Participant

    I was certain (annoyingly so certain I can’t find my source!) that a previous sector’s operations/delay could not be counted as a reason to deny EU261. Perhaps it was for weather.
    Thanks to this, it seems I’ve learned something new – unless I stumble across my believed source 😀


    SimonS1
    Participant

    Good luck. I would be surprised (positively) if you got anything from this.

    My reading of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ is something outside the control of the airline. I would say an ATC delay is exactly that.

    If there is evidence that the delay was due to other reasons (and I think the burden of proof is with the airline) then you may make a case however I’m sure the airline will argue that were it not for ATC delays then slots would not have been missed and I suspect they would win any case on that basis.


    capetonianm
    Participant

    FDOS:

    In my previous comment, I meant that I am taking on LH in an almost identical situation of a missed connection at FRA.

    It does say somewhere on Bott and Co’s website that a delay to a previous aircraft is not an extraordinary circumstance, particularly if the delay occurred at their home base where they might reasonably be expected to have a standby a/c and crew. If that delay was due to WX then the airline might have a strong case for rejection of the claim. Bott’s website does indicate that my claim is valid, even though LH have said it’s not, but I suspect that Botts cast their net fairly wide to encourage people to claim, but I am bit of a cynic specially when it comes to lawyers.

    I am willing to risk the MCOL fees which typically are about £70 and have done so in a number of situations over the years when claiming from individuals or entities. In the majority of cases I have been successful although in a couple of cases, for example suing private individuals, I’ve been able to obtain a judgment and a subsequent warrant and then had the defendant offer pathetic payments over a period of time.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    Good luck with your claim, capetonianm.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    Good luck. I would be surprised (positively) if you got anything from this.

    My reading of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ is something outside the control of the airline. I would say an ATC delay is exactly that.

    If there is evidence that the delay was due to other reasons (and I think the burden of proof is with the airline) then you may make a case however I’m sure the airline will argue that were it not for ATC delays then slots would not have been missed and I suspect they would win any case on that basis.

    Simon, I’m not so sure as you are. I agree if the HEL-LHR flight had been delayed by ATC in HEL, don’t even waste the stamp on a letter to the airline, but this was not the case.

    The flight that was delayed was the one before the HEL-LHR flight and as HEL is AY’s homebase, then I would imagine there is a decent argument that they knew well in advance of the delay and thus it was not an event ‘which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.’

    IIRC, a couple sued successfully some years ago, because their flight was delayed by weatehr affecting the flight before the flight which would have then turned around as their flight.

    But I do agree tha Finnair will probably not give in gracefully.


    rferguson
    Participant

    There have been rulings which have set the precedent for airlines to pay compensation where issues that could be deemed outside its control have been claimed. An example for this is technical issues. When EU261 was first introduced this was the main get out clause for airlines. There was a court case involving Jet 2 where a ruling was made that ‘routine’ technical issues such as wear and tear or component failure as they are not ‘extraordinary’. This is clearly stated on the CAA’s website – ‘ordinary technical problems that cause flight disruption, such as component failure or general wear and tear, should not be considered an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and compensation should be payable in these cases’.
    https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-travel-problems/How-the-CAA-can-help/How-the-CAA-can-help/

    I recall Easyjet also lost a ruling for when they were using issues with earlier rotations and knock on effects to later flights to get out of paying compensation.

    If I stick ‘extraordinary definition’ in trusty old Google – ‘very unusual or remarkable’. A routine ATC slot delay in China doesn’t cut it as very unusual or remarkable for me.

    Anyway, thanks for all the advice. I’ll see how I get on with my complaint to the CAA and take it from there.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    RF

    A word to the wise, a routine ATC slot delay is considered beyond the airline’s control and thus classed as being extraordinary (though I do agree with your analysis of the wisdom of planning very short turnarounds, much in the same way I find some MCTs incredible).

    The issue with your experience is that the ATC delay did not affect your flight or the rotation to London which became your flight to Helsinki on and it looks worth a claim – as I say, the onus is on Finnair to prove it was extraordinary circumstances, so I would ask them to do that first as it may provide very good evidence if you have to issue a MCOL (which is the way I assume you would do this, as it seems the claim would come under UK jurisdiction), as the delayed flight causing the misconnect was from London.

    Just as an aside, how did you find the A350? I haven’t been on one yet, though I very much like the 787 (apart from Y).

    PS: I’m not sure I’d expect much from the CAA

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