SAS is likely to be taken to court over compensation claims from passengers related to last year’s pilot strikes, Danish national broadcaster DR reports.
One SAS passenger told DR that he was promised a processing time of four weeks on a compensation claim after a delay and diversion on a return flight from Corfu to Denmark resulted in his family arriving home 12 hours behind schedule.
“The first response from SAS said four weeks. I think that sounds very reasonable and if it ended up being a month more, that’s not so bad. But seven months is probably a bit much,” the passenger said.
The passenger in question has since received compensation after speaking to the broadcaster, DR notes. That came after DR contacted SAS with a comment request related to the individual case.
Generally, passengers who reach their EU destination more than three hours later than planned have the right to compensation.
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But Flypenge, a company specialised in leading customer claims against airlines, said it was preparing around 600 cases to present to courts, all related to compensation arising from the pilot strikes.
The cases are being brought because SAS is yet to pay compensation or refunds to passengers who bought new tickets with other airlines so they could get home.
“This is about a lot of people who couldn’t go on holiday or couldn’t get home. Some also had extra expenses because they had to get home on time to go back to work or school,” the director of Flypenge, Dekan Salar, told DR.
The EU Court has previously ruled that airlines must pay compensation when the cause of a delay or cancellation is a legally notified strike, according to Salar. That EU ruling was also related to the SAS pilots’ strike, she said.
“I think this is unbelievable. I appreciate that SAS has been under huge pressure and we have therefore also chosen to give them a longer deadline to meet our demands,” she said to DR.
She said that a court case with SAS was not desired by her company but that it was on the table because the airline was yet to respond.
A second company, Flyhjælp, told DR it had around 30 ongoing cases against SAS on behalf of the airline’s passengers and expected more to come.
Flyhjælp legal director Benedikte Bolvig Lund said that SAS had paid compensation in some cases, but not in others where passengers had purchased new tickets with other companies.
“We think we have given them plenty of time to review the cases and as the responses come in, and we disagree with SAS’ decision, we will go further with them to court,” she said.
The senior consultant of consumer rights group Forbrugerrådet Tænk, Vagn Jelsøe, called it “incomprehensible” that SAS had taken “more than half a year to conclude some relatively simple refund cases” in reference to cases that involved passengers who still travelled with SAS but were delayed.
He also said that it should not be necessary for passengers to turn to legal companies to receive compensation of this type.
Companies such as Flypenge and Flyhjælp will typically receive part of the compensation fee as payment for taking on the claim for the individual passenger.
SAS did not agree to an interview with DR but said in a written statement that it regrets when “things end up in court” and that “it has taken a very long time” to process the claims.