Compensation in travel: how did we get here?

In 2012, the European Union’s Court of Justice passed a judgment. It meant that many airline consumers who arrived late at their destination would be eligible for compensation. Before this, many airlines had challenged a previously long-standing rule and pay-outs were sporadic or non-existent.

The new ruling provided clarity, making it harder for airlines to dismiss claims. For example, it was only for EU flights, delays had to be over three hours, compensation was fixed (and it was defined as compensation, not a refund), and it had to be the airline’s fault – bad weather wouldn’t cut it in terms of compensation. That’s because it was deemed an extraordinary circumstance beyond an airline’s control.

But you could still get a ticket refund, much to the relief of travellers whose plans went out of the window this time last year – The Beast from East had a lot to answer for. If you were affected by that one, you’d have discovered that the airline had a duty to pay for a reasonably priced hotel room (if stranded overnight) and food, but only if you chose didn’t opt for the refund.

Air travel compensation has almost become the expected norm. But for rail, many passengers are still unaware of their rights.

From 2015, rail passengers were able to claim compensation if their train is more than 30 minutes late (DR30). And in 2016, the DfT announced that the threshold was increased to include delays of over 15 minutes (DR15). DR15 is being introduced as train operator’s franchises are renewed and should be in place for all operators by 2020.

Speaking about the change three years ago, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We recognise that, above all else, passengers want a reliable train service, but when things do go wrong it is vital that they are compensated fairly. ‘Delay Repay 15’ is a major improvement for passengers and we are working with train companies to make it as easy as possible for passengers to claim their rightful compensation.”

The existing ‘Delay Repay’ thresholds are as follows:

  • 50% of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes

  • 100% of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes or more

  • 100% of the return fare for delays of 2 hours or more

But three years on, many passengers are still unaware of their DR30 rights, let alone the increased threshold. And many train operators are yet to introduce automated and speedy technology to ensure passengers claims are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.

So, what’s the answer? Get in touch with us to see how we can support you and your business.