Air France denied my E261 claim... Before accepting it through AIrHelp !

Old Jul 29, 19, 5:57 am
  #1  
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Air France denied my E261 claim... Before accepting it through AIrHelp !

Dear FTers,

I have not posted here for a while but I wanted to share a recent experience with you.
I recently suffered from a cancellation from LHR to CDG, and was rebooked on AZ through LIN arriving 3+ hours after the scheduled time.
My claim was denied by AF, because the aircraft was struck by lightening on an earlier flight during the day (not the incoming flight to LHR, but one from the morning roaster).
I tried to claim through AirHelp... And my claim was accepted by Air France !
Not only I find it very fish and I lost 125 for 2 PAX, but I think that tricking C2000/LTPE PAX is very unrespectful of their loyalty.

What are your thoughts?
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Old Jul 29, 19, 6:10 am
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You did not "lose" anything. You chose to retain a claims agency and agreed to pay its fees. It is a complete falsehood that the claims agencies do not charge fees. They simply subtract the fee from the payment. But, it is out of your pocket nonetheless.

If you believed that you were correct, why did you not pursue AF yourself? In particular, the UK small claims process is simple and permits telephonic hearings.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by olivedel View Post
I tried to claim through AirHelp... And my claim was accepted by Air France !
Not only I find it very fish and I lost 125€ for 2 PAX, but I think that tricking C2000/LTPE PAX is very unrespectful of their loyalty.

What are your thoughts?
This is the reason such claims agencies exist.

You decided you weren't satisfied with the denial, but you weren't prepared to keep hammering away at AF to secure your rights. So, you turned it over to a claims agency, who deduct a percentage of the payout because they don't do this out of the altruistic goodness of their hearts.

The airlines know that most lay-people will not go as far as getting a lawyer involved to secure the compensation - because the costs simply dwarf the amount being fought over.

But they know a claims agency has the ability, time, determination and means to get lawyers involved - so, when a customer turns a case over to them, they often pay up if their case is indefensible.

Not sure why you think you "lost" anything - the agencies take their cut, which based on your figure works out at 25% and sounds right.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 11:22 am
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Don't be mistaken : I am not mad at the claims agency - they are indeed here for a reason - but at AF that waited until the agency made the request to give in.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by olivedel View Post
Don't be mistaken : I am not mad at the claims agency - they are indeed here for a reason - but at AF that waited until the agency made the request to give in.
Indeed, but the regulation has no teeth, so all airlines habitually fob off customers in the first instance in all but the most egregious circumstances, knowing that of the very few who even claimed in the first place, almost all will give up at the first hurdle.

Note that the regulation imposes no penalties on airlines either failing to observe the requirements, or only belatedly observing the requirements. Note that no additional obligation is imposed on the airline to compensate any other passengers on the affected flight having experienced the same delay as those who successfully claimed, which therefore indicate that it is, in fact, the responsibility of each passenger to chase the airline for compensation, regardless of the regulators' intention in this regard when drafting it.

Not saying that it never happens, but while rebooking (not necessarily in line with the requirements of the regulation) and accommodation may be spontaneously offered by the airline to affected passengers, I cannot recall any reports of airlines spontaneously paying out delay compensation that was not already requested by the airline.

As such, the airlines have much to gain by dragging their heels with regard to such payouts. The worst that can happen is that they are ordered to pay what they should have all along (though I think the UK "enforcement agency" I believe has threatened additional sanctions on at least Ryanair for habitual footdragging in such cases).
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Old Jul 29, 19, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
Indeed, but the regulation has no teeth, so all airlines habitually fob off customers in the first instance in all but the most egregious circumstances, knowing that of the very few who even claimed in the first place, almost all will give up at the first hurdle.
You may have pointed the right issue indeed. Anyway. Lesson learnt: I should not let it go next time until I get the proper answer from Air France :-)
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Old Jul 29, 19, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
This is the reason such claims agencies exist.

You decided you weren't satisfied with the denial, but you weren't prepared to keep hammering away at AF to secure your rights. So, you turned it over to a claims agency, who deduct a percentage of the payout because they don't do this out of the altruistic goodness of their hearts.

The airlines know that most lay-people will not go as far as getting a lawyer involved to secure the compensation - because the costs simply dwarf the amount being fought over.

But they know a claims agency has the ability, time, determination and means to get lawyers involved - so, when a customer turns a case over to them, they often pay up if their case is indefensible.

Not sure why you think you "lost" anything - the agencies take their cut, which based on your figure works out at 25% and sounds right.
Not sure why, if such conditions are actually prevalent, airlines themselves aren't silent partners in claims agencies. Stonewall the individual complainant, claw back a portion of the eventual payout.
Are we sure they're not?
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Old Jul 29, 19, 11:59 am
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Not sure why, if such conditions are actually prevalent, airlines themselves aren't silent partners in claims agencies. Stonewall the individual complainant, claw back a portion of the eventual payout.
Are we sure they're not?


Most (all?) airlines will, when accepting the validity of a claim, offer a voucher of substantially greater value to the claimant, but with strings attached. For all airlines, it can only be used with that airline or its closely-aligned partners (in the case of AFKL, the vouchers can be used on those, or on Delta). For others, there is a time limit (I know that TAP requires the voucher to be redeemed within 12 months; I don't think AFKL put a time limit on theirs).

In this way, not only do they avoid having to physically pay out money, but any such money will only be "spent" on their services. Of course, in many cases, the vouchers will not be used entirely, or at all.

When dealing with a claims agency, they lose the ability to "bribe" the customer with such a voucher. The claims agencies require cash, paid directly to them, rather than directly to the passenger, as therefore they have no way of claiming their "fee".

So the airlines have more incentive to try and push customers towards accepting an airline-specific voucher, rather than paying cash out to the passenger even if they get some share of the 25/30/33/40% the claims fees charge!
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Old Jul 29, 19, 1:32 pm
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At a minimum, it is worth pursuing a carrier through the first few levels of argument. Depending on the country, the value you place on your time, and your tolerance for process, it may or may not be worth pursuing on one's own.

On the other hand, the claims agencies do serve the useful purpose of weeding out silly claims. As there is only a fee to be had if the claim is paid, the agency has no incentive to take cases where one is tilting at windmills, either out of anger, spite, or ignorance.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 3:50 pm
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Wholly agree it's worth being persistent. My ec261 claim was at first denied by an airline before I asked for a manager to review. I did research the law before I submitted my initial claim and also read how these airlines continually fob people off by denying valid claims. Its wrong of them to do this but they will continue to until they are penalised somehow.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 5:47 am
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The default response is to deny the compensation. I think what convinces an airline is a legal argument rather than an emotional one, and the fact that airlines have lost so many grey-area cases in the courts of law mean that whenever they see a letter from a claims agency they are inclined to pay up, assuming the claim is based on sound legal argument.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 6:41 am
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post


Most (all?) airlines will, when accepting the validity of a claim, offer a voucher of substantially greater value to the claimant, but with strings attached. For all airlines, it can only be used with that airline or its closely-aligned partners (in the case of AFKL, the vouchers can be used on those, or on Delta). For others, there is a time limit (I know that TAP requires the voucher to be redeemed within 12 months; I don't think AFKL put a time limit on theirs).
AFKL vouchers have a time limit of 1 year.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 6:57 am
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Vouchers are great for people who regularly can make the terms are work. The reason carriers are willing to pay in vouchers above the cash level is that the "breakage" on vouchers runs 30-40%. Thus, a EUR 1,000 voucher costs EUR 600 or thereabouts.
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Old Aug 1, 19, 12:22 am
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Hi olivedel,

How long did happen between your first claim and your call to AirHelp?
Also, cannot the Plat/C2000 line handle your request?
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Old Aug 1, 19, 1:12 am
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
the regulation has no teeth
[...]
Note that the regulation imposes no penalties on airlines either failing to observe the requirements, or only belatedly observing the requirements.
[...]
As is usually the case in most areas of EU law, it is for national law rather than EU law itself to impose administrative or criminal penalties for failure to abide by EU law obligations. It is possible in all Member States, under national legislation implementing the Regulation, to impose sanctions for failure to abide by its provisions. Whether there is a significant willingness among national regulators to pro-actively enforce the regulations and whether, in some Member States, the penalties are sufficiently dissuasive is another matter.
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