“I hope you can help,” begins the mail from Bernice, who contacted us after growing “tired of the merry-go-round” she was put on – very much against her will – by Aer Lingus.
She and two family members flew to Birmingham for a funeral last April, with the return flight delayed by three hours and 45 minutes. “We used the standard Aer Lingus Post Travel Enquiry form and made a claim under EU261/2004 for the delay,” she says. “My first correspondence from Aer Lingus was confirmation of receipt of form on April 10th, and then a standard reply email on April 20th,” her email continues.
That correspondence said the airline was “sorry to learn you were affected by the disruption to Aer Lingus flight EI3274 on April 6th, 2023. Please accept my apologies on behalf of Aer Lingus. We are very conscious of the importance of providing guests a reliable service. However, despite our best efforts, there are occasions when our customers’ travel plans are affected by unavoidable disruptions or cancellations to our flights. A copy of your correspondence has been sent to Emerald Airlines who, as the operating carrier, will contact you directly regarding this claim. If you need to contact Emerald Airlines regarding this claim, please email them.
“Please do not reply directly to this email as it will delay handling of your case. To send us a reply or to update your case, please click here. Please include your case number on all correspondence. Thank you.”
So that was fine. Or at least, so Bernice thought. Someone was taking responsibility for the issue, and it seemed, it would soon be resolved. “I waited to hear from them and in the meantime [in the middle of June] my brother got a response from Emerald Airlines that the compensation would be on its way, and he got his payment of €250 on June 29th.”
I would really appreciate your help getting to the end of this because I’m tired of this merry-go-round and I’m only asking for what I’m entitled to— Bernice, Aer Lingus customer
Bernice was still waiting. “I wrote to Aer Lingus again pointing out that my contract was with them and not their subcontractor Emerald Airlines and got a similar standard reply on June 30th that my case was in a queue etc. I waited, and again contacted Aer Lingus and got another standard reply on July 28th.” Then, in September, she contacted Emerald Airlines, asking when would the case be resolved. “I heard nothing from them, so I contacted Aer Lingus again and received the standard reply from them on October 3rd.
Some three weeks later she received a reply from Emerald Airlines. It was not what she was hoping for at all.
The long-awaited mail said that “as per EU261/2004, passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight arrives at their destination three hours or more after the scheduled arrival time. In this case your flight from Dublin to Birmingham arrived at 16:05, 5 minutes after the scheduled time of arrival of 16:00, and on this occasion unfortunately, compensation cannot be awarded.” So Bernice had to write back to Emerald Airlines with the correct details.
She pointed out that she had travelled from Birmingham to Dublin on a flight that was due to depart at 16.30 and arrive at 17.40. At no stage was the flight scheduled to arrive at 16.00 or arrive at 16.05. She also attached a screenshot of Dublin Airport arrivals on Thursday, April 6th, showing the original arrival time crossed out with the delayed arrival time. She also told them she had travelled with a family member who had already received compensation from the airline.
“I left it two weeks and contacted Aer Lingus again, and have heard nothing from them. I would really appreciate your help getting to the end of this because I’m tired of this merry-go-round and I’m only asking for what I’m entitled to.”
We contacted Aer Lingus, who in turn contacted Emerald Airlines, who sent us the following.
“We apologise to [Irish Times reader] for any inconvenience she experienced while travelling with Aer Lingus Regional and for any miscommunication regarding her compensation. Our customer relations team have advised that compensation has been processed.”