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In-house lawyers 'braced for plane compensation'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 03/09/13

Despite the fact that airplanes are enormous metal tubes that through some kind of incredible witchcraft can transport people from one place to another at an unprecedented pace, it appears that a compensation culture is beginning to spring up around European airlines and their occasional delays or mishaps.

Rather than simply accepting that flying, even with a delay, is still better than getting a boat for about two weeks, a surprising number of people are refusing to simply get themselves a refreshment and enjoy the pre-flight ambience.

Instead, they're turning to European lawyers in a bid to take advantage of new rules on flight delays and cancellations, reports Law Gazette.

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, warned that customers now have unrealistic expectations of how punctual flights should be.

Mr Keller suggested the compensation attitude could be getting out of hand.

European passenger rights legislation known as EU261, introduced by the European Commission, entitles flyers to claim a cash compensation unless airlines can prove they were not responsible for any delay that occurs.

"It is hard to see how a delayed or cancelled tube train due to a staff shortage or an over-running motorway repair causing traffic gridlock can incur hardly a mention, yet airlines, long the most sophisticated and well-run sector in transportation, incur the wrath of the regulators," declared Mr Keller.

A number of law firms have now created aviation departments in a bid to secure the kind of compensation consumers feel they deserve for the inconvenience incurred when flights are heavily delayed. However, the Board of Airlines Representatives chief claimed paying fees above and beyond ticket prices is an unreasonable expectation.

Given the fact that everyone involved in the aeronautical industry is obviously a terrifying wizard with powers beyond mortal ken, fee-hungry lawyers might be well-advised to back off.