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Broken Club World seat - compensation claim

Broken Club World seat - compensation claim

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Old Sep 12, 17, 8:39 am
  #76  
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Originally Posted by TabTraveller View Post
I appreciate that you are meaning well here, but encouraging the OP to pursue compensation is utterly unrealistic. The determination by the Adjudicator is correct in law and there is no basis for a claim due to the limitations afforded by the Montreal Convention. Banging on about EC261 or English consumer law is deeply unhelpful as any claim is destined to fail.

I would encourage all of those posting along the lines of the above to actually read some of the precedents. Stott v Thomas Cook [2014] UKSC 15 is an illustrative case of the extent to which the MC precludes claims from being brought against airlines except in the limited circumstances permitted by the Convention.
I've just read the judgement from Stott v Thomas Cook (first link on a google search). It deals with a terrible treatment of a disabled guy on a flight. The UK Supreme Court finds that non-physical trauma (such as humiliation or hurt feelings) doesn't qualify for compensation because of the Montreal Convention. The judgement has a clear review of the case law around the world. The judges comment that the treatment was ordinarily deserving of compensation but not available because of the Convention. There is even a call to law-makers at the end to change the situation to protect the rights of disabled people.

If such a case can't get around the Montreal Convention I can't believe that discomfort because a seat won't recline to become a bed would succeed.

I echo the suggestion that people - especially the lawyers encouraging a breach-of-contract claim - should take 10 minutes to read this judgement. In plain English (mostly!) it explains just how powerful the Montreal Convention really is. And that means no compensation for disappointment on an international flight.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 9:19 am
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Originally Posted by LondonTechTraveller View Post
I've just read the judgement from Stott v Thomas Cook (first link on a google search). It deals with a terrible treatment of a disabled guy on a flight. The UK Supreme Court finds that non-physical trauma (such as humiliation or hurt feelings) doesn't qualify for compensation because of the Montreal Convention. The judgement has a clear review of the case law around the world. The judges comment that the treatment was ordinarily deserving of compensation but not available because of the Convention. There is even a call to law-makers at the end to change the situation to protect the rights of disabled people.

If such a case can't get around the Montreal Convention I can't believe that discomfort because a seat won't recline to become a bed would succeed.

I echo the suggestion that people - especially the lawyers encouraging a breach-of-contract claim - should take 10 minutes to read this judgement. In plain English (mostly!) it explains just how powerful the Montreal Convention really is. And that means no compensation for disappointment on an international flight.
I also decided to read the judgement press summary, having followed this thread thinking (like I'm sure many of us have), "it could be me next time"... And frankly it's very disturbing reading. Interesting how one of the judges extrapolated as far as to suggest it could even make it impossible to claim for actual torture or racist treatment.

The one question that poses though, is that if this really sets a solid precedent for the airlines to get away with a host of contractual breaches (provided they at least get you from A to B), how come there is still a tendency for them not to defend cases in court - is it primarily a question of cost? Or reputational damage?
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Old Sep 12, 17, 10:34 am
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Currently in a similar debate with BA, we buy 5 tix every summer in discounted biz for a family vacation and this year one of five seats was inoperable in each direction. I may be done with BA, next summer is already booked on AA 77W which is a better seat anyway. I fly lots of flatbeds for business (including a fair bit of BA) and the rate of inoperative seats on the BA fleet is just staggering in comparison to other carriers. If they arent going to offer more than beans for compensation when you get a bad one then they probably aren't getting our business any more.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by stephem View Post
Currently in a similar debate with BA, we buy 5 tix every summer in discounted biz for a family vacation and this year one of five seats was inoperable in each direction. I may be done with BA, next summer is already booked on AA 77W which is a better seat anyway. I fly lots of flatbeds for business (including a fair bit of BA) and the rate of inoperative seats on the BA fleet is just staggering in comparison to other carriers. If they arent going to offer more than beans for compensation when you get a bad one then they probably aren't getting our business any more.
But because you're booking AA - they won't care. The joint venture means they effectively share all transatlantic bookings/revenue.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 11:49 am
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Originally Posted by ratechaser View Post
I also decided to read the judgement press summary, having followed this thread thinking (like I'm sure many of us have), "it could be me next time"... And frankly it's very disturbing reading. Interesting how one of the judges extrapolated as far as to suggest it could even make it impossible to claim for actual torture or racist treatment.

The one question that poses though, is that if this really sets a solid precedent for the airlines to get away with a host of contractual breaches (provided they at least get you from A to B), how come there is still a tendency for them not to defend cases in court - is it primarily a question of cost? Or reputational damage?
It will be a combination of cost of defending the claim (BA's external solicitors aren't cheap) and a vague attempt at keeping the customer happy and good PR more generally.

The OP may well get a decent offer to settle if he brings a claim, as is noted above. However, as I have said a number of times already, there are cost risks associated with this course of action. The chances of success are slim given that the approach of the courts towards the Convention is pretty settled, despite disquiet from some members of the judiciary.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 12:09 pm
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Originally Posted by MPH1980 View Post
But because you're booking AA - they won't care. The joint venture means they effectively share all transatlantic bookings/revenue.
I haven't told them I am flying American Airlines, I just told them that they can expect to lose 5 to 10 tickets a year from the west coast of the US during a time. When I know the business class cabin is woefully undersold and literally fills up the day of departure with op ups from World traveler and world traveler plus classes.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by stephem View Post
I haven't told them I am flying American Airlines, I just told them that they can expect to lose 5 to 10 tickets a year from the west coast of the US during a time. When I know the business class cabin is woefully undersold and literally fills up the day of departure with op ups from World traveler and world traveler plus classes.
But this is the point - until BA's bottom line hurts - they won't care that you aren't booking with them.

If you keep your business in the OW family - you don't hurt BA's bottom line.

If you don't care about BA that's fine, but if you'd like BA to change/improve then you need to move your business away from AA/BA.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 12:29 pm
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Originally Posted by TabTraveller View Post
As a fellow (non-armchair) lawyer, I'd really encourage you to read the precedents around the Convention. There undoubtedly is a breach of contract, but any such claim is specifically precluded by the Convention. A good recent summary of the relevant cases can be found in Chaing v Air Canada which I linked to earlier.
The judgement you linked to here is very interesting, albeit in the County Court.

It seems to carefully consider the implications of Stott v Thomas Cook (and myriad others) to draw a distinction between a claim for distress and a claim for partial non-performance - the first being 'inside' the scope of the Convention (with no remedy) and the second being 'outwith' the scope of the Convention (allowing domestic law to apply in the second instance).

As presented, the OP's claim seems to be a 'distress' claim firmly in the scope of the Montreal Convention (due to it being a request for compensation for a problem that occured onboard that does not involve misrepresentation). If true, the airline is explicitly absovled of any liability at all to the passenger.

No consequent, measurable financial loss is reported to have occured as a result of the malfunctioning seat, so it doesn't seem that a 'non performance' claim exists.

Pure conjecture on my part, but if the OP had suffered the cost of a day off work in order that they can sleep, caused directly by BA not providing it's contracted "spacious seat, which converts into a fully flat bed", that might be interpreted as a non performance claim that might be considered using domestic law. However, the Air Canada case apears to relate to denied carriage after boarding on the inbound portion of a return flight - non-performance was much clearer cut. Extrapolating that to a malfunctioning seat might need a good (expensive) lawyer!

The Convention and its interpretation does a very good job of absolving the airlines of any legal liability for most anything that occurs between boarding and airbridge that doesn't cause delay, bodily injury, death, or damage to belongings.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by NandoDave View Post
The judgement you linked to here is very interesting, albeit in the County Court.

It seems to carefully consider the implications of Stott v Thomas Cook (and myriad others) to draw a distinction between a claim for distress and a claim for partial non-performance - the first being 'inside' the scope of the Convention (with no remedy) and the second being 'outwith' the scope of the Convention (allowing domestic law to apply in the second instance).

As presented, the OP's claim seems to be a 'distress' claim firmly in the scope of the Montreal Convention (due to it being a request for compensation for a problem that occured onboard that does not involve misrepresentation). If true, the airline is explicitly absovled of any liability at all to the passenger.

No consequent, measurable financial loss is reported to have occured as a result of the malfunctioning seat, so it doesn't seem that a 'non performance' claim exists.

Pure conjecture on my part, but if the OP had suffered the cost of a day off work in order that they can sleep, caused directly by BA not providing it's contracted "spacious seat, which converts into a fully flat bed", that might be interpreted as a non performance claim that might be considered using domestic law. However, the Air Canada case apears to relate to denied carriage after boarding on the inbound portion of a return flight - non-performance was much clearer cut. Extrapolating that to a malfunctioning seat might need a good (expensive) lawyer!

The Convention and its interpretation does a very good job of absolving the airlines of any legal liability for most anything that occurs between boarding and airbridge that doesn't cause delay, bodily injury, death, or damage to belongings.
Yup, I'd largley agree with your summary here. I appreciate the Air Canada case was only at county court level, although it provided a useful review of recent cases in a fairly clear context.

I'd add that the courts seem to be quite unwilling to allow creative pleading to circumvent the purpose of the Convention. Whilst complete non-performance was considered outside the scope of the Convention, I'm not sure that partial non-performance is something that would necessarily fly (hoho).
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Old Sep 12, 17, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by MADPhil View Post
It's interesting to see how parsimonious BA has become. I was on an AA daytime TATL flight where the equipment was swapped and a lie flat seat in 1-2-1 became an angled seat in 2-2-2. AA sent me an apologetic email and 25,000 RDMs out of the blue. I had been rebooked from BA owing to a cancellation and the flight was credited to BA.
Originally Posted by mrow View Post
I had a similar experience. Was booked in F on a 77W and the aircraft was switched to a 772 with no F, so downgraded to J. This was on an ex-JFK routing so no EU261 to invoke.

I had originally got into F using an SWU (Upgrade instrument similar to a GUF1) so wasn't too worried about the downgrade and told the gate agent so (she had suggested she would rebook me on BA but I didn't want to change terminals and just wanted to get on a plane to come home).

The SWU was returned to me. I got a voucher at the gate for $250 USD and I also got 15,000 AAdvantage miles as an apology. All of this was proactively offered without any prompting whatsoever. Voucher was provided upon boarding and SWU and miles were in my account when I landed at LHR the next morning.

Only problem is using an AA paper voucher - they're a pain in the neck and I still have it sitting on my desk as I haven't been organised enough to take it to an AA ticket desk to redeem it!!
Just to add my AA experience to compare with the above and with how BA are dealing with this...I too recently had a TATL day flight MAN-JFK on the B763 which was switched on the day to the old 2-2-2 slopey J seats, still much better than a bolt-upright CW seat, and my travelling companion and I were both pro-actively sent a $500 voucher EACH.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by TabTraveller View Post
Yup, I'd largley agree with your summary here. I appreciate the Air Canada case was only at county court level, although it provided a useful review of recent cases in a fairly clear context.

I'd add that the courts seem to be quite unwilling to allow creative pleading to circumvent the purpose of the Convention. Whilst complete non-performance was considered outside the scope of the Convention, I'm not sure that partial non-performance is something that would necessarily fly (hoho).
It is buried in there somewhere, but the Air Canada judgement was stated as partial non-performance as the passengers were on their return leg and therefore mid-carriage. However, I agree entirely about there being a chasm of difference between flying in a broken seat on a return leg and not flying at all on a return leg!

(additionally in that judgement, the concept of denied boarding being argued to be an indefinate/infinate delay gave me a chuckle!)

Last edited by NandoDave; Sep 12, 17 at 12:51 pm Reason: where/were
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Old Sep 12, 17, 1:13 pm
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Originally Posted by TabTraveller View Post
I appreciate that you are meaning well here, but encouraging the OP to pursue compensation is utterly unrealistic. The determination by the Adjudicator is correct in law and there is no basis for a claim due to the limitations afforded by the Montreal Convention. Banging on about EC261 or English consumer law is deeply unhelpful as any claim is destined to fail.

I would encourage all of those posting along the lines of the above to actually read some of the precedents. Stott v Thomas Cook [2014] UKSC 15 is an illustrative case of the extent to which the MC precludes claims from being brought against airlines except in the limited circumstances permitted by the Convention.
Sorry but in business and meetings, you are coming across as purely "broken record". Simply repeatedly restating/shouting your 'possibly mistaken' belief does not make you right

Whilst I am not fully read up on the Montreal Convention, MC can not overide contract laws outside the intended scope of the act. MC is purely intended/designed to limit air carriage exposure to runaway costs for certain limited assigned areas, but not to remove passengers contractual rights in entirety

Similarly a courts MC v flier ruling on baggage issues would not be binding on multiple other issues. Plus the same hearing of identical issues with equal presentation in different countries can well result in a different outcome.


nb
As an aside, iIf MC was as you are claiming, that overpowering, then surely the newer EC261 act would have zero relevance as MC could be used to absolve the carrier of every issue imaginable
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Last edited by scubaccr; Sep 12, 17 at 1:24 pm
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Old Sep 12, 17, 1:25 pm
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The fact that the Convention acts as bar to the enforcement of local law does not preclude carriers from granting customer service gestures which are just that (although FT refers to it as compensation).

That said, when looking at the cost of defending a case such as this, BA is looking at the larger picture. A few posts on social media about someone who collected a bonanza at MCOL cost a lot more than the cost of defending any one claim. All the more true because it sounds as though OP and BA agree on the facts.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 3:22 pm
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Originally Posted by scubaccr View Post
Sorry but in business and meetings, you are coming across as purely "broken record". Simply repeatedly restating/shouting your 'possibly mistaken' belief does not make you right

Whilst I am not fully read up on the Montreal Convention, MC can not overide contract laws outside the intended scope of the act. MC is purely intended/designed to limit air carriage exposure to runaway costs for certain limited assigned areas, but not to remove passengers contractual rights in entirety

Similarly a courts MC v flier ruling on baggage issues would not be binding on multiple other issues. Plus the same hearing of identical issues with equal presentation in different countries can well result in a different outcome.


nb
As an aside, iIf MC was as you are claiming, that overpowering, then surely the newer EC261 act would have zero relevance as MC could be used to absolve the carrier of every issue imaginable
No need to get personal - I've provided different points in my posts on this topic and have linked to external sources which support my argument. These include cases from our Supreme Court. Clearly the nuance of the points being made has been lost.

It is fairly illustrative that you are "not fully read up on the Montreal Convention" (the relevant parts cover all of 3 pages) yet in the next breath you assert "MC can not overide [sic] contract laws". How can you possibly know that if you haven't read it? You then go on to discuss the intentions of the Convention, again without having "fully read up" on it. The Thomas Cook case linked earlier discusses the purpose on the Convention in some depth. It is well worth reviewing.

In regard to your aside, the ECJ has made multiple rulings on the compatibility of EC261 and the MC. I expect you won't be "fully read up" on them but in case you find the time, the relevant judgement can be found here. I would summarise for you, but then I expect you've already heard enough from this broken record.
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Old Sep 12, 17, 3:54 pm
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Originally Posted by gcuk View Post
The process has been simplified. It's no longer necessary to visit an airport desk or post it to the US. There is now a UK address to post it to after making the booking and my ticket was issued within 3 days. Fast becoming a firm fan of AA Customer Service and their service recovery.
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