Ants on a plane EU261

Old Jun 18, 18, 11:04 am
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Question Ants on a plane EU261

Hi Flyertalk,

On 26 March 2018 I was scheduled to fly Wow Air (I know, I know, but it was last minute for a funeral) Montreal YUL --> Reykjavik KEF , KEF ---> Gatwick. On the booking this was listed as one journey (WW252/WW810) rather than two legs.

The Montreal-->KEF ended up being delayed by 22 hours because ants were discovered on the plane when it landed in Montreal:
https://nypost.com/2018/03/30/passen...t-infestation/

I ended up arriving home 24 hours late. I put in an EU261 claim on the Wow Air website the next day.

Finally, today, Wow Air have responded to my claim, denying it, saying that it is clearly an Extraordinary Circumstance.

I have fought EU261 claims in the past successfully. The airlines' response has always been to say no to the initial claim. I've then had to go to the hassle of back and forth and threatening to take them to court before they've paid.

However, this time I am wondering if this is an Extraordinary Circumstance in the truest sense of the word, rather than a lame excuse. If some knucklehead smuggled produce onto the plane which was infested with ants, should Wow Air be held responsible?
Their ground crew in Montreal was crap, but they did provide an overnight hotel and transported me back.
What do you all think?

Thanks
CM
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Old Jun 19, 18, 2:32 am
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Irrespective of the reason for the delay, you are due duty of care so you could claim that.
Have you tried one of the online claim agencies? Even just for checking whether they consider this a 'winnable' case?
I would tend to think that ants would be considered Extraordinary Circumstances
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Old Jun 19, 18, 8:54 pm
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Originally Posted by cuteusmaximus View Post
However, this time I am wondering if this is an Extraordinary Circumstance in the truest sense of the word, rather than a lame excuse. If some knucklehead smuggled produce onto the plane which was infested with ants, should Wow Air be held responsible?
Yes. Transporting knuckleheads is inherent in the operation of an airline. This "inherent" phrase seems to be flavour of the month in deciding these cases just now, so always worth a try. If they get antsy(!) about it, try a NWNF company.
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Old Jun 20, 18, 6:23 am
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Thank you!
Any recommendations for a no-win-no-fee EU261 agency ?
CM
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Old Jun 20, 18, 9:25 pm
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Originally Posted by cuteusmaximus View Post
Thank you!
Any recommendations for a no-win-no-fee EU261 agency ?
Afraid not. The one I would refer you to is saying it's outwith their jurisdiction.
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Old Jun 21, 18, 7:45 am
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Originally Posted by cuteusmaximus View Post
Thank you!
Any recommendations for a no-win-no-fee EU261 agency ?
CM
They all operate on a no-win no-fee basis.

However, this is something you should fight yourself. No need (yet) to get an agency to fight on your behalf (if there are any that would deal with a Canadian/Icelandic combination, which I doubt!).
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Old Jun 26, 18, 7:49 am
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Why would an ant infestation be an Extraordinary Circumstance? A few ants maybe, but an infestation doesn't happen overnight, unless they are trying to say a passenger brought the entire infestation with them. If they kept the plane clean and sprayed when they saw the first ants, it wouldn't have grown into an infestation.
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Old Jun 26, 18, 11:11 am
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Please. The infestation is beyond their control and it was CBSA that who "impounded" the aircraft until it could be fumigated. That a passenger had some rotting fruit full of ants in their bag is obviously NOT the fault of WOW.
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Old Jun 26, 18, 11:35 am
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Originally Posted by bankops View Post
Please. The infestation is beyond their control and it was CBSA that who "impounded" the aircraft until it could be fumigated. That a passenger had some rotting fruit full of ants in their bag is obviously NOT the fault of WOW.
This is the kind of useful information which ought to have been included in the OP. OP's failure to provide it left people speculating and that is unhelpful.

Indeed, government action is an "extraordinary circumstance" and makes sense. It does not take 22 hours to fumigate and then ventilate a confined space such as an aircraft. But, once some government agency has impounded the aircraft for health and safety reasons, that is a longer process.

OP does not provide his residence in his profile, but he is a UK resident, he could send a letter before action and then file a simple MCOL claim. I would not go out and spend the EUR 600 just yet, but the worst he is out is the filing fee.

I presume that his local expenses were handled. Otherwise I would be surprised if his EC 261/2004 claim for duty of care expenses is rejected.
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Old Jun 26, 18, 7:30 pm
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Originally Posted by bankops View Post
That a passenger had some rotting fruit full of ants in their bag is obviously NOT the fault of WOW.
I don't see this information in the linked article. Is that fact or speculation?

What proof for extraordinary circumstances did WOW provide when they rejected the claim?

WOW claims they followed "standard procedure", but maybe better maintenance would have caught the infestation earlier and thus avoided the delay? Similar to technical issues, which are NOT deemed extraordinary circumstances.
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Old Jun 27, 18, 3:23 am
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Originally Posted by bankops View Post
Please. The infestation is beyond their control and it was CBSA that who "impounded" the aircraft until it could be fumigated. That a passenger had some rotting fruit full of ants in their bag is obviously NOT the fault of WOW.
One could argue that the carrier has some responsibility in making sure that passengers don't bring anthills on board.
Hard to believe that a plane gets grounded for 22 hours because of ants in a bag.
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Old Jun 27, 18, 3:40 am
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Originally Posted by drphun View Post
Why would an ant infestation be an Extraordinary Circumstance? A few ants maybe, but an infestation doesn't happen overnight, unless they are trying to say a passenger brought the entire infestation with them. If they kept the plane clean and sprayed when they saw the first ants, it wouldn't have grown into an infestation.
I wonder what some people WOULD agree was "extraordinary circumstances" if this wasn't..... Alien invasion? Time travellers appearing?
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Old Jun 27, 18, 4:20 am
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Hi everyone, OP here. I was speculating (apologies) that some "knucklehead" was to blame. In fact I don't know if a passenger brought rotting fruit onboard or where the ants came from. Wow Air has not made that public. The question is whether the presence of ants -- wherever they came from -- is "extraordinary" or not. It's not an easy call. Anyway thank you for all who have contributed. CM
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Old Jun 27, 18, 8:01 am
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I was only providing one vector, but it is safe to assume that a large quantity of ants on an airplane must have come aboard in a food source. The chances of them setting up a nest aboard are pretty slim. So my assumption is still a pretty good one. The presence of ants aboard is extraordinary simply because the airline cannot check what is in your suitcase. AIrlines do not have any "requirement" to prevent such an event. They only have a requirement to declare it and resolve it once/if it happens.

As to the delay of 22 hours, this is quite common for TATL flights. They arrived in YUL in the evening, so nobody to fumigate the plane until morning. Once the plane has been fumigated they have to have a slot, the crew has to have their rest period, etc. Since the plane continues to Gatwick, slots can play an important role.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 1:48 am
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Originally Posted by bankops View Post
The presence of ants aboard is extraordinary simply because the airline cannot check what is in your suitcase.
I tend to agree with you, however neither you nor I know what a court will decide. As above, there seems to be a tendency to say if something is inherent in the operation of an airline it's not extraordinary. Transporting people who do daft things falls into this category IMO.

I wouldn't trust the potential loss of a court fee (or more) chasing this one, but would get a NWNF company to go with it if I could.
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