Ryanair has applauded a decision by London’s Court of Appeal which ruled in the airline’s favour over the way in which it communicates with customers about so-called ‘denied boarding’ compensation. The case was brought against Ryanair by a firm of solicitors who specialise in claiming refunds and compensation from airlines under Europe’s generous EC261 regulations.
Claiming cash compensation, in some cases up to the value of €600, should be relatively simple but a number of companies have sprung up to do the work on behalf of consumers. They promise to take all the leg work out of claiming compensation but, of course, it comes at a price and these firms will take a slice of any compensation that’s paid out.
But the Irish low-cost airline has been refusing to deal with what it calls “claim chaser” companies. Instead, Ryanair insists on only communicating directly with consumers and paying out any owed compensation straight to the customer – bypassing the flight refund agencies even when they filed the initial paperwork.
The purpose of this tactic is pretty obvious – reduce the number of compensation claims made by consumers. Despite the EC261 regulations being around for years, many consumers still don’t know when they can make a claim, how they should go about doing it and what they should do if the airline initially dismisses their claim.
Flight refund companies may well be completely unnecessary but they’ve helped a lot of consumers make claims they didn’t even realise they were entitled to. Other consumers realise they could get more money if they submitted the claim themselves but they’d rather save the time and effort by getting a solicitor to do it on a no win, no fee arrangement.
In the past, Ryanair has faced criticism over its handling of compensation claims, with allegations that the carrier has unfairly dismissed legitimate claims and made the process obscure and difficult. The Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom has been a vocal critic of Ryanair’s claim process and recently started legal action against the airline over its refusal to settle claims caused by staff strikes.
The recent court ruling, though, says Ryanair has a claims procedure that “enables a passenger to claim compensation with a minimum of effort”.
Kenny Jacobs, the airline’s head spokesperson, said of the ruling:
“Where customers have a valid claim for compensation, they can make their claim directly on the Ryanair.com website and avoid these excessive “claims chasers” deductions. Last year, we established a dedicated Claims team to process these valid claims within 10 working days and to make it as straightforward as possible for our customers.”
Ryanair may well have a point – these companies have obviously discovered a lucrative market to make a good profit with very little work actually required on their behalf. Consumers could stand to make a lot more from their legtimate claims if they did it themselves but many obviously see the benefit of using a “claim chaser”.