Complaints About Airlines Increase

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Customer complaints about the airline industry have risen by 11 percent year-on-year, according to new figures released by The Air Transport Users Council (AUC). The body for UK airline passengers handled 12,307 complaints in 2008-2009, compared with 11,077 the previous year.

There were more complaints about canceled flights than any other issue, with the numbers rising slightly to 3,770. This was followed by delays and mishandled baggage.

The AUC said it had been difficult to win compensation for the majority of passengers because airlines claimed cancellations were the result of “extraordinary circumstances”, for which they do not have to pay compensation. Stricter legislation on passenger rights has covered cancellations, delays and baggage handling so the group described the latest figures as “disappointing”.

Separate figures from law firm Hausfeld & Co showed that 211,000 passengers of British Airways and Virgin have been awarded refunds for fuel surcharges following a class action. British Airways was fined for price-fixing on fuel surcharges while Virgin also admitted breaching the law but escaped a fine.

The refunds, to passengers with long-haul airline tickets bought between August 2004 and March 2006, are worth one-third of the fuel surcharge, between about $3.30 and $16.50 for each flight.


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