Finnair in court over passenger compensation payments

If you've received a food & drinks voucher when you're flight's been delayed, this is a case you'll want to pay attention to.

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File photo of Finnair plane / Credit; News Now Finland

Proceedings start today in the Market Court as Finnair answers a case that’s all about how much compensation it pays to passengers.

The Consumer Ombudsman is bringing the matter to court, and Finland’s national airline could face fines of up to €1.5 million.

The Ombudsman says Finnair should pay the proper EU-regulated compensation for any flights delays or cancellations.

At present, Finnair only pays up the problem is their own fault. If they decide the problem is the fault of the plane’s design or manufacturer, Finnair doesn’t pay the full EU-regulated compensation. Instead, they often offer a voucher, or cash payment lower than a passenger would be entitled to receive under EU rules.

“We think there is a difference between how the Consumer Ombudsman in Finland approaches this, and how it is approached in other EU countries” Finnair’s Director for Media Relations Päivyt Tallqvist told News Now Finland last year when the complaint was first taken up by the Ombudsman in September 2017.

Finnair says it is trying to offer good customer service by telling passengers it might be a manufacturer’s problem with their cancelled or delayed flight, but giving them some compensation anyway – even if they don’t have to, strictly speaking, under their own interpretation of EU regulations.

Ombudsman’s Case

The Consumer Ombudsman says they received hundreds of complaints about Finnair’s compensation practices starting in 2015. They’ve tried negotiating with the airline to find common ground, but the talks went nowhere, and now the Ombudsman’s office is referring the case to the Market Court – something that doesn’t happen often.

“There haven’t been that many cases that have been brought to court in Finland” Consumer Ombudsman’s Senior Legal Adviser Satu Toepfer previously told News Now Finland.

“The Ombudsman has a statutory duty to seek to bring an end to infringement, and only after that do we resort to legal proceedings.” she said.

“Under the EU regulation, the airline should always inform the passengers about their rights, and in those circumstances, maybe that information has been misleading”.