Easyjet left us stranded

20 September 2012

Q

Following a trip to France with my wife and two young daughters, we had our return flight from Nice to Liverpool on Good Friday cancelled by Easyjet. We had quite an ordeal queuing to get booked onto another flight. It took many hours and was rather stressful.The cancellation was blamed on adverse weather conditions but all other operators were running fine. Eventually we were offered an alternative flight to Gatwick late that evening and were told that our travel expenditure back to Liverpool would be paid for.Unfortunately, we did not get that in writing and when we arrived at Gatwick, three Easyjet staffwere waiting to tell us - along with a few other travellers - that our excursion was not authorised. There were no trains running after midnight so we had to stay overnight in a hotel at Gatwick and then make our own way back to Liverpool by train the next day. We spent £400 on hotel accommodation and train fares altogether.We have tried claiming our costs from Easyjet and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to no avail. The CAA said we had a right to claim but fobbed us off to the French equivalent website, which is not in English and would involve expensive calls to France. I do not know what to do now. Can you help?
From
Ian Limbert, Oldham

A

Flying at night with young children in tow is difficult enough at the best of times. Throw in cancelled flights and long queues and we can only imagine how angry the Limberts must have felt when they finally arrived at Gatwick, only to be told that their hotel and travel expenses would not be covered.

How passengers should be treated when flights are cancelled is stipulated in a European Union ruling known as regulation EU 261/2004. These rules - which also include your rights if your flight is delayed - are often found buried in your airline's small print but even if your airline doesn't share these rules with you, it doesn't mean it isn't bound by them.

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The CAA's website provides a useful and easy-to-understand summary (caa.co.uk). It says that if your flight is cancelled with less than seven days' notice you are entitled to choose an alternative flight to the original destination as soon as possible, or at a time that suits you and, crucially for the Limberts, that this "includes transfer to the original airport or another close-by destination of your choice".

As such, we were more than a little confused as to why Easyjet refused to pay up and fobbed the Limberts offto the CAA. Nonetheless, we are pleased to say that following Moneywise's intervention, Easyjet has agreed to cover the family's expenses as a 'gesture of good will'.

Shame on Easyjet for not admitting it's at fault and for not being more helpful in the first instance.

Flight delays and cancellations: tips on making a complaint

  • Familiarise yourself with your rights under regulation EU 261/2004 before you travel. You can download the CAA’s Know Your Rights leaflet from caa.co.uk.
  • If problems arise try to deal with them at the airport - take down names, times and dates.
  • If any offer to cover costs is made, get the agreement in writing.
  • Check your airline’s preferred method of complaint - some require letters, others have online forms.
  • Explain what went wrong briefly and state what you expect by way of compensation.
  • The CAA advises you to include: names of passengers, email and postal address, phone number, booking reference, travel date, flight number, destination to/from and the airport where the incident occurred. Enclose any relevant receipts and booking confirmation documents.
  • Keep a paper trail by holding on to copies of all letters and/or emails.
  • If your complaint is not successful contact the CAA’s passenger advice and complaints team at passengercomplaints@caa.com or 020 7453 6888.