A flight from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam turned into a nightmare. In a recent court ruling, an Israeli court ruled that a couple, plaintiffs against the Israeli airline “Arkia”, were entitled to compensation, even though the Airline Services Act (compensation for flight cancellation) does not offer remedies.
A couple, planning a weekend abroad, booked a flight from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam on “Arkia”, were scheduled to take off a 04:15. After entering the plane and waiting on the runway, the plane took off at 06:15. Once airborne, the Captain announced that the plane must return to Tel Aviv “due to technical reasons”. However, due to the weight of the plane, which was too heavy for landing, fuel had to be used, which led to another two hours of hovering over the Mediterranean Sea prior to landing.
A replacement fight which was scheduled to take off from Tel Aviv at 18:00, eventually took off at 19:00. The plaintiffs arrived in Amsterdam at 23:00. The plaintiffs, requested the court award them approximately $1,000. The airline, quoting the Airline Services Act, was willing to pay a significantly lesser amount.
The court dismissed the airline’s argument and awarded the plaintiffs a significantly higher amount than that offered by the airline. The court held that the Airline Services Act does not preclude the court from awarding sums under different laws which are available to consumers.
Airlines do not “volunteer” to justly compensate passengers for cancelled or postponed flights. When demanding compensation from airlines, airlines will be quick to quote international treaties and local laws which in their view, negate their responsibilities to pay adequate or any compensation.
As passengers and consumers, when encountering similar situations, do not be deterred by the laws and treaties quoted by the airlines. Consumers have an arsenal of laws designed to protect them. When encountering airlines that “dodge” responsibilities and accountability, consumers should seek remedies under laws which do offer protection, such as contract, tort and the various consumer protection laws and regulations.