Aer Lingus passengers can now claim compensation for weekend flight chaos at Dublin Airport

Aer Lingus passengers who are still waiting to catch a flight to their chosen destination are entitled to “expenses” but the compensation situation can be “fairly fluid”, a travel expert said.

A technical problem with Aer Lingus’ check-in system led to the cancellation of more than 50 flights on Saturday, affecting several thousand travelers.

Air And Travel Magazine editor Eoghan Corry said normally the airline would “take charge” and secure replacement flights and hotel rooms for affected passengers if necessary, but in many cases Aer Lingus was unable to do so over the weekend.

“The precedent for this is that passengers who have made their own way home are compensated for expenses,” he said.

“So, people who booked their own flight get on, come home, find their own way back, and then chase Aer Lingus for the expenses.”

Passengers should request the exercise of their rights through the website, but if they are not satisfied with the outcome they can pursue the matter through an independent arbitration process.

Mr Corry said he expected the process to secure compensation to be “quite straightforward” but added: “If there are any issues there is an arbitration procedure which is operated by the website – that’s an official one appointed site. This should be the first port of call for people struggling to get reimbursed for their expenses.

“Out of pocket means while they’re stranded. Aer Lingus is responsible for this. They have orders to take you home.”

Speaking of RTEs Tomorrow Ireland, said Mr Corry, Aer Lingus is expanding capacity on a number of routes to assist affected passengers. It comes as people stranded in Bulgaria have been told there will be no flights until Thursday.

“Aer Lingus is talking about using their transatlantic aircraft, that would be their larger Airbus 330, which has much more capacity, to fly to Bulgaria and some of the other destinations to bring people back,” he added.

“They don’t officially operate rescue flights, they get nothing to get people home, but they’re increasing capacity where they can and they’re dealing with other airlines too.

“The question arises, if you booked with an alternative airline, do you get compensation? I expect Aer Lingus will buzz about this a bit, but certainly the precedent in consumer law is that customers are entitled to book with a competing airline.”

On the same show, Cavan resident Deirdre Mulhern said she and her wife have been stuck in Rome since Saturday and have booked a new flight home.

After waiting four hours at Fiumicino Airport, she said they were informed when their flight was due to depart that it would not go ahead. Ms Mulhern said there were no Aer Lingus representatives on site, but two representatives from Fiumicino said Aer Lingus had arranged a hotel for them.

“We spoke on the phone for two hours and 18 minutes last night, we couldn’t reach anyone,” she said.

“We were finally able to book a flight for Tuesday morning. So me then applied online to Aer Lingus for a refund for the flight that didn’t take place but received an email at 5.75 this morning saying they had rebooked us on a flight on Thursday which was just too far away is.”

She added: “I haven’t had any contact with them since, I’ve sent several emails, notified their social media channels and haven’t been able to contact them on the phone just to let them know if I’m going ahead and their flight on.” Cancel Thursday or what do I do?

“The problem here with most of the local people is the lack of presence and contact to reassure people what is happening and that we will take care of them.”

If a flight is canceled for any reason, and regardless of when the passenger is notified, EU rules require the airline to offer a choice between:

1) Rebooking as soon as possible, subject to availability, free of charge.
2) Redirect at a later date.
3) A full refund within seven days.

If a flight is canceled and a passenger wishes to be re-routed as soon as possible, they are entitled to meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation and transfers between the airport and hotel as required. If the airline does not provide these and the passenger ultimately pays themselves, they should keep the receipts as they are entitled to reimbursement of reasonable expenses.

The financial compensation depends on the duration of the flight and the reason for the cancellation. It differs from care and assistance obligations and generally ranges from €250 (short distances of less than 1,500 km) to €600 (long distances of more than 3,500 km). Aer Lingus passengers can now claim compensation for weekend flight chaos at Dublin Airport

Fry Electronics Team

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