Claim compensation: yes or no?

In general, easyJet flights are mostly extremely punctual, but sometimes they are very late. Should people claim compensation?

Yesterday, Sunday 18 August was a case in point. As usual, most people who took flights with easyJet would have been very satisfied. However, passengers who had booked certain flights to or from Malaga or Porto experienced delays of around 6 hours. Those for the evening flight to or from Berlin (a destination which has often suffered problems) actually had to wait overnight before being put on a special replacement flight the following day.

In principle, people who arrive at their European destination airport more than three hours late are entitled to a compensation of 250 Euros unless the delay was due to exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the airline concerned. Thus, for example, weather conditions or strikes may nullify the compensation rights. However, since neither of these was the case yesterday, it would seem that a claim could be made.

Why did this happen? The reason appears to be that the flights to or from the above-mentioned places require easyJet to use a large Airbus A320, rather than a smaller A319. Unfortunately, easyJet Switzerland has no spare Airbus A320 available, but appears to have had a technical problem (perhaps a maintenance taking much longer than usual) with one of the four A320 aircraft which had been here overnight. Whatever the problem, this aircraft (HB-JZR) could not fly until the middle of the afternoon. Therefore, the problems started in the early morning, when the flight to Malaga, due to leave at 6h55 am, had to wait for the return of the early morning flight to Porto and back. A similar delay affected the second flight to Porto, due to leave at 1h05 pm, but which could only leave just after 7pm. As for the evening flight to and from Berlin, there was simply no A320 aircrafrt available.

Should easyJet have sent their spare A319 aircraft to these destinations, albeit leaving a few passengers behind? As it happens, this was in any case not possible, since the spare aircraft had been lent to the parent easyJet UK to do flights between Paris and Split.

Why was it not possible to borrow an A320 from easyJet UK? I have no idea: I could imagine that the hope was that HB-JZR would rapidly be made ready for service, or maybe that easyJet UK could not provide a spare A320 aircraft, but that is all speculation!

So should those passengers claim the compensation? Given that the seating capacity of an A320 is around 180, that could lead to total claims of between 200,000 and 300,000 Swiss francs, so there would doubtless be a strong resistance from the company.

Just in case you think that yesterday was an exception, I could mention that early last week two easyJet flights from Edinburgh to Geneva also had several hours of delay.

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