22 AUGUST 2022


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Article from BTNews 22 AUGUST 2022

COMMENT: Passsenger compensation. Will it catch on in the UK?

Amsterdam Airport passengers who missed flights due to long queues at security at the airport between 23 April and 11 August, and incurred costs as a result, can submit a compensation request to the airport until 30 September.

The airport approached the official MAX Ombudsman and Dutch consumers’ association Consumentenbond to discuss how Schiphol can accommodate these people and has developed the temporary scheme in collaboration with them.

Travellers can apply for compensation for costs incurred to rebook a flight or for a replacement flight, for alternative transportation if they chose to travel to a destination by other means, and for extra travel costs incurred to travel to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol or another airport. Passengers can also claim accommodation costs at or near Schiphol and the expenses for non-cancellable accommodation, transportation and activities at their destination.

Alongside this measure, Schiphol has also implemented its Summer Action Plan, which focuses on attracting staff to improve processes at the airport and therefore the number of passengers and flights that can be processed.

Dick Benschop, CEO of Schiphol Airport, said: “A lot of people have really been looking forward to their holidays abroad, especially after two years of Covid-19. We’re extremely sorry that some people have missed their flight due to the long security control queue. They’ve had to miss out on all or part of their holiday, and we really sympathize with them. The broadcast of [travel TV show] Max Vakantieman and the appeal made by the consumers’ association has underscored this sentiment. During these special times and circumstances, we must not let these people fall through the cracks”.

Jeanine Janssen, a representative of MAX Ombudsman, added: “I’m glad that Schiphol is taking its responsibility toward the consumer.  We’re proud to have been able to contribute to this solution through our action. The trial process is now over, as people are being compensated”.

Sandra Molenaar, Director of Consumentenbond, commented: “We investigated the possibility of a mass claim and then entered into discussions with Schiphol. Our joint efforts have resulted in this arrangement, which has helped a large group of consumers”.

The real question is if it works in the Netherlands and the system is not overwhelmed with claims, could it be replicated in the UK?  There is a big difference between Schiphol and say Heathrow.  The Dutch airport is effectively owned by the state with the Ministry of Finance (69.77%), the municipalities of Amsterdam (20.03%) and Rotterdam (2.2%) and Aéroports de Paris (8.00%).  Heathrow’s largest shareholder is a Spanish group only interested in maximising profit.

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Richard Lucking, United Kingdom