Well, why didn’t you just say so?

Sometimes, just a little more information can make a complaint melt away like a late winter snow. That’s what happened to Mary Walshe, who flew from Dublin to Boston in early November — a case that I thought was winnable until an important piece of information came to light.

Two hours before Walshe was supposed to depart from Dublin, Aer Lingus canceled her flight. “They rebooked me the next day,” she says.

“Their website states that I am entitled to 600 euro compensation. They refused to pay,” she adds.

Aer Lingus’ cancellation policy seemed clear, at first glance. It owed Walshe 600 euro. (Also, meals and refreshments as reasonable compensation for the waiting time and two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.)

“I feel that Aer Lingus is just giving me the runaround and they should not be able to treat customers in this way,” she says.

I asked Walshe to send me her correspondence with Aer Lingus. And here’s where it gets interesting. Aer Lingus claims it canceled her flight because of an “extraordinary circumstance.” But it wouldn’t say what the circumstance was.

A representative added,

Unfortunately, we would not have particulars on the technical difficulties experienced with an aircraft; I can only reiterate that Aer Lingus maintains the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances on this occasion and therefore European Union compensation is not due.

I didn’t like that answer, and neither did Walshe. An airline shouldn’t just be able to pull the “extraordinary circumstances” card and tell us to trust it. At the very least, Aer Lingus should tell a passenger like Walshe what happened to her plane. So she asked.

I was not aware that the cancellation was due to an extraordinary circumstance, only a technical problem.

I would appreciate if you would define this circumstance to see if it does fall under the European Union regulation.

I did do some research myself and found that the European Court of Justice has narrowed the definition of “technical and/or extraordinary circumstance.”

I would appreciate your comments and compensation that I believe I am due for the inconvenience of my cancelled flight.

Walshe cited three cases — Wallentin-Hermann v Alitalia, Sturgeon v Condor, and Bock v Air France — in which courts precisely defined “extraordinary circumstances.” Did her cancellation meet the criteria set by these European courts? We couldn’t know unless Aer Lingus told her. And it wasn’t telling her.

Here’s the airline’s final, and disappointingly vague, “no.”

Aer Lingus is very conscious of the importance of providing customers a reliable service. Regrettably, there remains isolated occasions where service is affected due to an aircraft requiring unscheduled maintenance.

Airlines under European Union regulation may be required to provide compensation for flight delay and cancellation. Exceptions to the rule are in cases where delay and/or cancellation are caused by extraordinary circumstances including technical aircraft problems, which was the basis for the cancellation on this occasion.

Under the latter, airlines are required to provide accommodation as appropriate and arrange alternate travel. Additionally, it is Aer Lingus policy to reimburse customers for reasonable receipted out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the disruption to our maximum liability. Claims of a consequential nature such as lost wages, etc. are not covered.

That still didn’t answer the question: What was the “extraordinary” circumstance?

I contacted Aer Lingus on Walshe’s behalf. Later that afternoon, I heard from her. Someone from the airline’s New York office had called her with details.

“He informed me that the aircraft in question was hit by a truck on the ground the morning of the scheduled departure and therefore this was covered by the extraordinary technical difficulty clause,” she says. “As such, Aer Lingus is not obliged to compensate me.”

A truck, you say? Well, that does sound extraordinary. Why didn’t Aer Lingus just say so in the first place?

Should Aer Lingus have turned down Walshe's claim?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend