Compensation for work hours lost by delays?

Whether you travel once a year or once a week, chances are delays and cancellations will eventually impact your plans. For a leisure traveller, it could be said your time is not so important. But what about someone in business, can the airlines be held liable for the productivity lost? After a recent bad experience for one of our members, it certainly got them thinking.

First time post but just wanted to ask if there is a way that I can claim lost labour for a flight that was cancelled while I was in the air on the first of 4 legs. Was supposed to fly Adelaide – Melbourne – Launceston – Melbourne – Adelaide all in one day and while in the air on the Adelaide – Melbourne the next leg to Launceston was cancelled. Qantas have been good a refunded the total amount of the trip and returned me to Adelaide but I still lost 9.5hrs of labour. Is there a form that I can complete and ask for some nominal amount or a couple of Qantas Club passes for the hassle they have created?

The first area to look at would be the contract you have with the airline concerned, commonly called the conditions of carriage. In this case, it’s quite clear that Qantas will not bear any responsibility under section 9.2 of their conditions. Unless there is a law that requires otherwise, they will book you on the next flight available or refund the fare or most flights. Luckily for some flights however, there is indeed compensation on offer, thanks to some far sighted laws that have been put in place by the European Union.

Of course this all depends on the reason for the original cancellation… but had we been in the EU, sizeable compensation may have been payable, which would have offset some of your costs/loss of work.

For those travelling from the UK or a European Union country, that compensation can be as much as 600 Euro. In addition, the airline must provide alternative arrangements including covering meals and accommodation in certain circumstances. The traveller also has the right to ask for a refund of the fare as an alternative, in addition to claiming the compensation.

Sadly, Australia still has a long way to go to catch up with the consumer protections on offer elsewhere. There has certainly never been a better time for such laws to be considered. Ten years ago according to Federal Department of Transport and Infrastructure, cancellations were just 0.8% of all flights, while on time departures occurred for 88% of all flights. Last year, cancellations had grown to 1.8% of all flights, while on time departures had sunk to 81% of the flights for 2013.

Have you been a victim in the growing mess of delays and cancellations that is our air transport system? What sort of compensation do you think should be paid, and should it be for business or for all travellers, have your say HERE.


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