European Union has very pro-customer friendly legislation for flight delays and cancellation by the community carriers (+ Norway, Switzerland & Iceland) and all flights operated from the community countries plus the three listed. You can access EU’s website for Passenger Rights here.
A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about the maddening experience he is having with Finnair to get the airline to pony up the required compensation per the EC 261/2004. Remember that you can always email me, sent a message via Facebook or use Twitter. I’ll try to cover Reader Questions & Comments here several times a week.
Here’s the email from Risto:
I want to share with you my recent experience with Finnair.
I booked from Finnair’s internet-page a return flight Brussels-Rovaniemi via Helsinki. The outbound flight was 0735 morning flight from Brussels. The day before the flight I received an email from Finnair stating that the morning flight was cancelled – nothing else, not rerouting etc.
I was forced to call Finnair’s number (payable) to get a replacement flight. I succeeded to get the next flight (11h00 the same day) – however I lost my corresponding Finnair flight from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, and was forced to take the next flight.
As a results I arrived around 4,5 hour later to Rovaniemi compared to original time-schedule.
I complained and asked 400e compensation as per EU Directive. Finnair declined stating that the cancellation was due to an illness of a crew-member, and that this counts for exceptional circumstances. I disagreed and considered that Finnair has cut its staff too thin(to save costs)and it is not right that this risk (delays/cancellations due to lack of staff) is then passed to Finnair’s customers. I have opened a claim with the consumer authorities.
My return flight was also cancelled. I flew from Rovaniemi to Helsinki, and then found out that the flight from Helsinki to Brussels was cancelled. Finnair organised place in the next flight (next morning and organised hotel and dinner for the night). I requested 400e compensation because I was more than 12 hours later in Brussels than originally planned.
Finnair refused stating that the cancellation was due to a technical problem – a piece which was at 10% stage of its lifecycle failed – consequently this was exceptional and therefore compensation cannot be paid. I have opened a second claim with consumer authorities.
Risto is correct here. Neither of these two reasons that Finnair uses to refuse pay EC 261/2004 compensation are valid. European Court recently rules that mechanicals are not valid reasons to deny payments per this law (read more here).
Certainly Finnair should staff accordingly and have reserve flight attendants and pilots on hand to cover those that call in sick. Considering the number of flights that Finnair operates daily to/from Helsinki, it should be quite predictable number.
Finnair is known for not playing fair when it comes to these EC 261/2004 claims and deny them left and right. The only way to get them to pay is to use the national enforcement bodies and, as a last recourse, take them to court.
There are also commercial entities within the European Union that handle these claims on your behalf and take 30% cut when the airlines pay up.
It is really unfortunate that Finnair has made this commercial decision and violates the European Union law. I hope that there would be viable way for class action lawsuits within the Union that could make Finnair to pay for their illegal activity.