Reader Question: Finnair 20-Hour Flight Delay & EC 261/2004 Delay Compensation Denied

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10 Comments

A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me a question by email about Finnair flight delay to Singapore that exceeded more than 20 hours and the airlines’ refusal to provide the required 600 euro compensation per EC 261/2004.

Finnair Money Claim Online

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Here’s the email from the reader:

As a BA Gold member I recently booked a business class light to Singapore via Helsinki with Finnair.

The flight to Helsinki was fine but 30 minutes from boarding they announced, owing to crew sickness, that the flight would be delayed until AM the following day.  We were put up in the Hilton and duly arrived the following morning for an anticipated departure of 1130.  We final departed at 1800 hours, about 20 hours later than scheduled.  I lodged an EU claim with Finnair who responded by saying the crew illness was “exceptional circumstances” and offered us 100 EUR instead of the 600 each we were claiming.

Is the fact that Helsinki is their base airport make their claim invalid and would we have a claim under EU regulations?

Finnair knowingly denies majority valid EC 261/2004 claims on dubious grounds because most of the passengers don’t follow up (majority of the affected passengers on these flights that would be eligible for the compensation don’t even know about it).

Finnair should have handed you a leaflet explaining the air passenger rights in case of irregular operations. Did the give you one? Obviously not.

Crew member sickness is not a valid reason for denying a claim. Finnair pilots are currently going through A350 certification that had lead to situation where the airline doesn’t have enough crew members to operate the scheduled operations (read more here).

The reader should open a case against Finnair at the UK EC 261/2004 national enforcement body:

Download (PDF, 220KB)

Other option is to open a case against Finnair with Money Claim Online (access here). The reader is UK based.

Conclusion

It is shameful how Finnair handles and denies these EC 261/2004 claims on various non valid reasons. More fliers should know their rights and go after the cash that Finnair owns them.

UK has very convenient way to get cash from companies (as long as you claim is valid). Just use Money Claim Online-service.

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  • Chris

    MCOL cannot be used for a defendant outside England and Wales but there is a European Small Claims procedure which can be used for such cases through the English courts…

    • Finnair certainly has presence in England and the reader’s trip started (I would assume) in London.

  • JJ

    Just contact them again and explain and show that you know the regulation well and crew member getting sick certainly isn’t force majeure. The situation must be such that the airline doesn’t have control over. They could just keep enough of people in reserve and on-call. Weather conditions or strikes not directly related to airline itself, like air control strikes on the other hand would be force majeure. We had a 24 hour delay with AA from Helsinki to ORD couple of years ago. AA most definitely tried to play hide & seek with this and deny any claims, then offer something ridiculous but as I kept insisting and quoted enough of references about the EU law and court decisions they gave up and paid in full.

  • BatSheva

    BA tried the same trick with me years ago. They had a sick staff member and could not get the flight out on time. I missed my connection and it was a real nuisance. They claimed they had no other flight attendant on call and this was an exceptional circumstance. When I asked them if they really expected me to believe that and also that BA at LCY had no spare staff available and that if that is the case the travelling public should be told about it, did they relent and come up with cash!

  • Ramitran

    I’m due the same 600e compensation from Finnair and still no answer from them after 2 weeks. They really seem to try their best not to pay these compensations (maybe a bit better luck if you hold Finnair plus platinum(?)). Should I try to contact them again or already open a case with the “Consumer Disputes Board”?

    • Jussi

      I made a claim for Finnair on January 16th and received a reply on March 3rd that they started the proceedings. Still waiting a decision….

    • That would be my advice. Let me know how they handle it and whether Finnair actually pays up at the end.

  • Guest

    Just make them be aware that you haven’t let it go. I’m guessing that most airlines have instructions like the following for their service desk:
    1. Thank you for the contact and ask to be patient
    2. Wait for a while and don’t answer anything
    3. If customer contacts you again and is persistent about it, offer something ridiculous as compensation
    4. If customer keeps going on claiming the full amount, take total radio silence as long as customer contacts again.
    5. If customer contacts again and seems to be well aware of his rights, offer the full compensation but emphasize voucher first instead of cash

    Of course the first step is not to make any noise about this in the first place. Airlines should give their customers written instructions how to get the compensation and the instructions should be available on the gate. Here it already starts: no one says anything about it unless someone asks, then they claim that the “brochures” are on the way, someone is getting them. Not so big surprise that half of the people have already boarded when someone comes with the instructions and certainly doesn’t make huge noise about them being available. I’ve seen this in practice happening once.

    Of course after that they try to play the long game and trust that people are lazy and not persistent about their compensation. I’m sure there are a lot of people who contact they airline but most of them are too lazy or busy to go through all the trouble and take the minor compensation the airline offers or just let it go when they have tried a couple of times and it has taken months to get any decent answer. After all this the airlines cost is just a fraction of what they were in for like 320 x 600 + other costs on top of that (taxi to home/hotel/food). If you get the total number of passengers down from 320 to say 100 who gets the full refund, you just saved well over 100 000 € just playing a couple of tricks and letting people wait.

    • Guest

      I forgot the natural and obvious step 2: deny the claim with force majeure or by some other reason completely.