Hours in line, flight canceled: How do travelers stranded in Schiphol get their money back?
Combine the Sunday in the May holiday and the understaffing at Schiphol and you’ve got a mess. Long lines of passengers stood again, Sunday morning, outside the airport’s departure hall. The fire brigade gave water to the waiting people. Schiphol expected about 70,000 passengers to leave on Sunday.
The airport’s attempts to reduce passenger numbers failed. Travel organizations were asked if their customers also wanted to depart at a different time or via another airport. Most of them don’t want this. Dozens of flights were canceled and many were delayed.
Compared to the end of last week, the chaos in Schiphol is not that bad, says Frank Ostdam, president of the Netherlands General Association of Travel Companies (ANVR). “Then there was a strike, and now we see that the staff at Schiphol are working themselves. But the queues are of course huge. Simply put, there are not enough airport staff.”
The traveler may experience a lot of inconvenience, but he is not in a bad position financially. In the European context, it has been agreed that passengers will get a refund (part of) their money in the event of a delay or cancellation.
Anyone who has to deal with a delay is entitled to compensation from the airline or, for example, if they have booked a vacation package (a flight plus a hotel), from the travel organization. On the Consumers Association’s website there is a table of the types of delays as well as the relevant amounts. This ranges from 125 euros for a delay of up to two hours on flights of up to 1,500 km, to 600 euros if a flight of more than 3,500 km is delayed by more than four hours.
The airline or travel organization does not have to pay except in the case of “force majeure”. This includes extreme weather, terrorism or other emergencies. The staff shortage, which was the reason for this on Sunday, is neither, nor technical defects. Because of a number of court decisions, strikes are no longer seen as a force majeure on society.
KLM said in a response that the company encourages affected travelers to contact them as soon as possible. “We will offer them the best possible alternative and they may be able to file a direct compensation claim,” a company spokesperson said.
Read also: Ground strike could cost millions of KLM
If the entire flight is canceled, the full amount of the flight ticket will be refunded to the traveler. This does not mean that it will be recovered automatically; In many cases, the traveler has to go after him himself.
The Consumers Association distinguishes a number of ways to do this. First, the affected passenger can request a refund from the airline. They should return it within a week. According to the Consumers Association, the traveler may refuse a voucher or a new flight. Other options include reversing the credit card payment, via a letter to the credit card company, or going to court. It is also possible to file a complaint with the Inspectorate of the Human Environment and Transport, but then the victim will not receive an individual refund. A supervisor can investigate various complaints, which can lead to a class claim.
Finally, there are the claim organizations, such as AirHelp and Aviclaim. They promise to return money to the consumer for a commission, up to a third of the amount that will be refunded. The Consumers Association reports that the traveler should only pay the commission if they actually get the money back.
One of the claiming organizations, EUclaim, provides additional information about additional costs if your flight is cancelled. If a passenger needs a hotel stay and the airline cannot arrange it, he can book it himself. According to EUclaim, it is important that you do not book a suite in a five-star hotel, but stick to a two- or three-star hotel.
Meal and taxi costs can also be claimed, the claims organization promised. Even if the flight is canceled due to an emergency, and the traveler is not reimbursed for his ticket, he is still entitled to compensation for hotels, meals and taxis, even if the delay lasts several days. After a delay of two hours, the traveler has the right to buy what he eats and drinks.
The lost travel fun
According to Ostdam, it is important that travel organizations come up with an alternative as soon as possible if you are unable to make a trip. “With the holiday package, the financial risk is with us. We’ve booked a hotel room for the traveler. If he doesn’t show up, the hotel says, ‘Yes, nice and nice, but you just have to pay us for that room.'” If a passenger departs for the destination one day later than planned, the travel organization also pays for “the lost travel pleasure,” Ostdam says.
In order to reduce these costs, it is therefore important that travel establishments offer their customers an alternative as quickly as possible. And they fared well at it this weekend, according to Osdam. ‘People are like this’ Careful To go on vacation two years after contracting the coronavirus, travelers often quickly agree to another solution. If they cannot go to Cyprus, they would like to go to Greece or Turkey. If only they could get away with it all.”
A version of this article also appeared in The May 2, 2022
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