Copenhagen Airport baggage strikes: Passengers may have right to compensation

Passengers affected by strikes conducted by baggage staff at Copenhagen Airport may be able to claim compensation for disrupted services, a consumers’ interest organisation has said.

Passengers with baggage at Copenhagen Airport
Passengers with baggage at Copenhagen Airport on February 14th 2022. Airline customers who face delays due to ongoing strikes by baggage handlers may be entitled to compensation, according to a consumer interest group. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Baggage staff at Copenhagen Airport have been engaged in a wildcat strike – meaning a strike that is not endorsed by the workers’ trade union and in breach of their collective bargaining agreement – since Saturday morning.

Those strikes continued on Monday despite the Danish labour court, Arbejdsretten, ordering the baggage handlers to resume working and ruling fines can be issued to workers who continue the walkout, broadcaster DR reported.

Dissatisfaction with wage and working conditions has been reported to be the reason for the wildcat strikes.

READ ALSO: Delays at Copenhagen Airport as baggage staff continue wildcat strikes

The Danish Consumer Council (Forbrugerrådet Tænk) said on Monday that some airline customers may be able to claim compensation for the impact on travel caused by the strikes.

“When a flight has been delayed by more than three to four hours – depending on the length of the journey – you have the right to have your flight rearranged and if you are not happy with the rearranged flight, you can get your money back,” the organisation’s senior consultant Vagn Jelsøe told Ritzau.

“Additionally, in some cases you may have the right to further compensation to an amount corresponding to the length of the journey. That can be between 250 and 600 euros,” he said.

However, the European compensation rules have some exceptions, including for delays that occurs due to “unusual circumstances” which can include strikes.

But that does not necessarily mean SAS, which owns the baggage handling company, SAS Ground Handling (SGH), will be exempt from paying compensation in the current situation.

“There are actually different court decisions relating to strikes that point in different directions,” Jelsøe said.

“How a court would end up ruling in this case, I dare not say,” he said.

The consumer rights consultant said that passengers interested in claiming compensation should begin by contacting SAS. If a claim with SAS is rejected, they can contact the Danish Civil Aviation and Railway Authority (Trafikstyrelsen).

The unsanctioned strikes could also mean luggage does not arrive on time in addition to delayed flight departures.

“If you do not have your baggage forwarded to you within a reasonable amount of time, you also have the right to claim reasonable compensation,” Jelsøe said.

According to SAS’ website, passengers whose baggage is delayed by more than 24 hours can claim compensation of around 560 kroner per day to purchase essential items.

The baggage handlers are employed by the SAS Ground Handling (SGH) company, which manages baggage for several airlines and not only SAS.

Other airlines which use the company at Copenhagen Airport include Aegean, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa.

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‘A game changer’: Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

Industry associations representing airlines have called on European authorities to plan a “public communications campaign” to alert non-EU nationals about new requirements to enter and exit the Schengen area.

'A game changer': Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the biometric data (finger prints and facial recognition) of non-EU citizens travelling for short stays to the Schengen area (EU countries minus Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), each time they cross the external borders.

Fully digital, the system will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. The data collected will be kept in a centralised database shared among the Schengen countries.

The EES was created to tighten up border security and will ensure the enforcement of the 90-day limit in any 180-day period for tourists and visitors. But it requires changes in the infrastructure at the external borders, including airports, and the setting up of a new digital infrastructure to connect authorities in participating countries.

Its entry into operation has already been delayed several times. The latest date for the EES launch was May this year, but last week European authorities decided to postpone it again “due to delays from the contractors”. It is now expected to enter into force at the end of 2023, as The Local reported this week.

Airline associations including European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the delay and said further preparations are needed.

“The EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions,” a joint statement says.

Things to be resolved include a “wider adoption and effective implementation of automation at national border crossing points by national authorities, funding by member states to ensure a sufficient number of trained staff and resources are deployed to manage the EU’s external border, particularly at airports,” and the “deployment of sufficient resources” to help airports and airlines with new procedures.

Airlines also said there needs to be a public communications campaign to inform non-EU citizens about the changes.

In addition, industry groups called on EU-LISA, the agency responsible for managing the system, to “strengthen communication” with airlines and with international partners such as the US “to ensure IT systems are connected and compatible.”

The decision to postpone the EES entry into operation until after the summer “will give airlines, airports and EU and national authorities the opportunity to resolve these issues and ensure the system is fully tested,” the statement continues.

The EU-LISA is currently preparing a revised timeline for the launch, which will be presented for approval at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the meeting of responsible EU ministers, in March 2023.

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.