After repeatedly misleading customers about their rights, Britain’s largest low-cost airline said The independent will contact and compensate travelers who have been wrongly accused of having expired passports to travel to the European Union.
How do you know if you have been rejected at the departure gate incorrectly, by easyJet or any other airline and what can you claim?
These are the key questions and answers, gathered with the help of a leading consumer advocate: Gary Rycroft, partner of Joseph A Jones of Lancaster,
What is the background?
Following the UK’s choice to become a “third country national” after leaving the EU, two post-Brexit validity conditions apply to British passports for travel to the European Union:
As some British passports issued before September 2018 were valid for up to 10 years and nine months, many passengers were correctly denied boarding at a UK airport: if their passport had celebrated its 10th birthday, they were ineligible to travel to the European Union.
But many travelers whose passports were issued between nine years and nine months were unfairly rejected.
This is because some airlines, travel agents and holiday companies, as well as the UK government, have come up with the possibility that the two conditions of validity of the passport could be connected in some way.
The media made things worse. A typical newspaper article falsely reported that, in order to travel to the EU, a British passport “ceases to be valid nine years and nine months after its issue”. This was nonsense.
There was never any indication that the two conditions of validity of the passport were related, such as The independent established with the help of the Department of Migration at the European Commission.
Also after The independent passed all official correspondence with Brussels to the airlines, holiday companies and the UK government and invited them to do their own checks, some travel companies continued to reject travelers despite having valid documentation.
Eventually easyJet, as well as Ryanair and the UK government, agreed that they had invented their own rules. At this point, passengers whose holidays had been unnecessarily shipwrecked could file a complaint against the companies that had wrongly denied them boarding.
So is everything okay?
No, because easyJet then rejected the valid requests. The independent found numerous examples of passengers who were perfectly entitled to travel and yet whose claims were forcefully rejected. The airline decided to compound the original bankruptcy by insisting that travelers were wrong, blaming people who didn’t make mistakes.
Attorney Gary Rycroft says, “It is shameful that easyJet tried to circumvent its liability for paying compensation which, by their own admission, they know very well was owed to their customers.
“It is one thing not to warn passengers about their legal right to compensation, but it is beyond that and profoundly cynical to act in a way that is deliberately obstructive to compliance with fair legal process.”
What happened with such cases?
On any occasion when The IndependentWhen they raised them, easyJet insisted that a “misunderstanding” had been created, that the passenger would receive due compensation and that the customer service teams had been reminded of the rules.
Eventually, however, the airline conducted an internal investigation and decided to change its policies.
What has changed?
An easyJet spokesperson said: “We are sorry that there have been a limited number of other cases since easyJet updated its Customer Service Staff Guidelines to clarify the correct rules, as well as republish clear and urgent guidelines for customers. UK airports.
“We are reviewing all cases of denied boarding due to passport validity to verify that no other cases have occurred, and if we identify any, we will proactively contact the customer to provide compensation where they have been falsely refused.”
What am I entitled to?
Unquestionably, anyone who is wrongly rejected by easyJet or any other UK or EU airline is entitled to cash compensation under European air passenger rights rules.
The minimum is € 250 / £ 220 for flights of less than 1,500km or € 400 / £ 350 for longer easyJet flights.
And how far is it? Well, in Alicante in Spain, Luton and everywhere to the north are over 1,500km, while from Heathrow, Bristol and everywhere south to the city of the Costa Blanca it is less than 1,500km.
Only the person who has been rejected can claim?
The airline could argue that other travelers in the group could have flown and therefore only the person who was wrongly denied boarding is entitled to compensation. But easyJet has wisely agreed to accept that anyone else in the booking who did not travel due to the error will receive compensation,
But I lost my accommodation and car rental costs due to unfairly denied boarding. Can I claim?
I believe you can, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which requires businesses to provide a service with reasonable care and expertise. Once it became clear that easyJet was unfairly alienating people and I reminded the airline of the rules, they became liable under contract law for what lawyers refer to as “direct losses”. Gary Rycroft defines them as “foreseeable losses from the airline’s breach of contract law”.
He says: “In my opinion in these cases this would include loss of accommodation, car rental costs, Covid tests and any other expenses directly associated with the flight that could not be taken due to the airline’s illegal conduct.”
What happens if my request is denied?
First, make sure you have been mistakenly denied boarding; sadly, many passengers had ineligible British passports.
If you are sure that the airline was responsible and that you met all the necessary conditions (e.g. reach the airport and departure gate in good time), write a letter before the action to the carrier, giving them two weeks to resolve your complaint before you take legal action.
Gary Rycroft said: “Passengers may think that the only way to enforce their legal rights is to file a claim under the Small Claims Track.
“Usually a successful plaintiff under the Small Claims Claim Track cannot claim legal fees from the defendant, but the Court has the right to waive that rule if the defendant has acted unreasonably.”
If it is clear that an airline has misrepresented a passenger’s rights, it is possible that the court will issue an adverse expense order against them.
Could passengers be mistakenly turned away in the future?
Inevitably someone will – even before Brexit travelers were occasionally denied boarding due to ground crew errors. But easyJet now states that any decision at the airport to deny boarding to an individual based on passport validity will need to be signed by an easyJet supervisor.