An incident with the Lufthansa airline’s computer systems caused several flights to be delayed on Wednesday, opening the door to claims for which those affected can demand up to six hundred euros, not including what they could receive for inconveniences arising from the delay.
“It is too early to give a figure for the number of people affected,” says Nidia Rodero, a lawyer at legal services platform Reclamador.es. The incident occurred yesterday and passengers are taking longer to mobilise and initiate their claims”. According to German airline sources, check-in and boarding systems were affected at several British airports, as well as in Frankfurt and Munich, which is preventing passengers from boarding the planes.
As the failure falls within the framework of the airport’s organisation and control, as would be a technical failure of one of the aircraft, without interference by a third party, affected travellers can claim compensation, assistance and additional costs.
Rodero’s first recommendation is to look at all the details of the traveller’s particular situation in a situation where the flight is not operating in order to formulate the claim effectively.
“European regulations charge compensation for the kilometres of the flight that is delayed, with 250 euros if it is less than 1,500 kilometres, 400 euros if it is between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres and 600 euros if it is more than 3,500 kilometres, but additional expenses arising from the delay must also be taken into account, which are analysed on a case-by-case basis,” he explains.
In this sense, Rodero stresses that airlines offer as options a refund of the ticket price or a relocation at the convenience of the affected person, but that the latter can also look for another ticket, a measure that would depend on the assumed extra cost that the airline would have to pay, just like the lost reservation of a hotel or a concert ticket, in certain cases.
The lawyer stresses that the same cannot be expected in scenarios that are considered force majeure because they do not depend on the airline’s means, such as if there is a breakdown in the communications network due to a cyber threat, a targeted terrorist attack or weather conditions that minimise visibility or compromise the safety of the flight.
It would also be a different situation where the responsibility lies with the airport, in the event that its systems are affected rather than the airline.
However, Rodero warns of an incident he has observed in which flights on the same route accumulate delays throughout the day, so that pilots extend their day and at the end of the day the last flights are cancelled because they have exceeded their permitted hours, something that “would also be within the framework of the airline’s responsibility”.
According to data from January this year, Lufthansa accumulated 3.8 % of the 44,000 complaints made last year for cancellations with less than two weeks’ notice and delays of more than three hours.
“Lufthansa has to answer for failures to passengers,” he says, pointing to examples of successful complaints on the same grounds in the past. “Customers don’t always make claims immediately, but what we tend to see is that they increase as time goes on and they compile the documentation.