Schiphol had already warned: ‘We expect a period with Big crowds, longer queuesThe airport wrote in its invitation to a “media moment” on Friday about the busy May holiday.
It was expected at the beginning of April FNV . Trade Unions Also in this summer “Chipol chaos in security, handling of passengers and baggage due to lack of staff”. But no one expected things to get out of hand at Amsterdam airport on the first Saturday of the holiday.
The wilderness From the platform employees can cost KLM several million euros. Tens of thousands of affected passengers are entitled not only to a refund of their ticket or alternative flight, but also to compensation for their care (food, drink, possibly hotel accommodation) and compensation. Depending on the duration of the delay and the flight distance, this compensation can be up to 600 euros per passenger.
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KLM canceled 110 flights on Saturday due to a strike by personnel handling the aircraft outside in the parking lot. In addition, an unknown number of flights were seriously delayed. The platform’s 150 employees stopped working on Saturday in protest of the heavy workload and for fear of eventually outsourcing their work to a cheaper outside processor.
Other airlines that handled their planes before KLM canceled another thirty to forty flights on Saturday. According to a spokesperson, KLM did not have to cancel flights on Sunday, but at least seven were canceled on Monday. The company was still busy all day Monday to send out the suitcases. Passenger planes did not take cargo, but leftover baggage.
European consumer rules
In theory, infected passengers are well protected under European consumer rules. European Regulation 261/2004 is “one of the strongest rules for air travelers in the world,” and requires agencies that assist victims if they want a refund. But airlines do not always adhere to European consumer rules. For example, hundreds of passengers who booked a KLM ticket before the Corona crisis are waiting at D-travel now bankrupt They are still waiting for their money back. The average ticket price is 800 euros, says the Consumers Association, but the amount sometimes goes up to several thousand euros per reservation.
The consumer rules relate to every flight departing from a country in the European Union and every flight of a European airline that arrives in the European Union. In the event of a delay of more than 2 hours of additional waiting time from the scheduled departure time, or in the event of cancellation or overbooking, passengers are primarily entitled to care. European rules talk about food and drink “in reasonable quantities,” two emails, faxes or phone calls, and overnights and transfers if necessary.
Anyone who is more than five hours late can cancel their flight and request a full refund from the airline. They must refund the ticket within seven days.
A spokesperson for the Consumers’ Association says this sometimes goes wrong, if consumers buy a ticket from an intermediary (online). The company returns an amount, but the broker does not pass the money (immediately) to the consumer. That’s how it went with D-reizen. The Consumers Association now advises travelers not to book through ticket sites, but directly with airlines.
Compensation ranges from 250€ to 600€, depending on the length of the trip and the delay incurred.
Beating is not force majeure
In the event of cancellation or delay where passengers arrive after more than three hours at their final destination, they may be entitled to additional compensation. This also applies to those who “for operational reasons” miss a connecting flight and arrive more than three hours later. Compensation ranges from €250 to €600, depending on the length of the trip and the delay incurred.
There are exceptions to the rules of compensation: bad weather for example or damage to the aircraft through no fault of the company, but also a medical emergency or danger at the destination (war, terrorism). The strike at the airport, for example in air traffic control, was also cited as a reason for not requiring the airline to pay additional compensation to passengers. But due to a number of court decisions, the strike is no longer seen as a force majeure for society.
Last year, the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of the European Consumer Organization in a case against SAS. Swedish-Danish airline pilots went on strike in 2019; Four thousand flights were delayed or canceled, affecting 370,000 passengers. SAS had to pay compensation.
KLM invites affected travelers to report on its website. There they can report their desire to claim compensation.
A version of this article also appeared in the April 26, 2022 newspaper
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