Aggrieved passengers to file class action lawsuit against Air France over rights violation

Some aggrieved Nigerians have decided to file a class action lawsuit against Air France for what they described as the carrier’s inhuman treatment of travellers who are billed to travel to Nigeria.

For more than one week Air France had been in the news for the wrong reasons as their flights particularly to Lagos were never on time as the carrier failed to inform connecting passengers and passengers from Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris of the change of schedule.

On getting to the airport, passengers who arrived early for the 4 pm flight were confronted with the disappointment of flights not leaving until 10 pm with the passengers arriving the next day at 4 am.

Some of the passengers who spoke to Aviation Metric from Paris expressed their frustration at the behaviour of Air France alleging that maltreated them by not giving them compensation to cover the long hours of delay.

Some of the protesting passengers who were seen sleeping on are floor of the terminal said the action of the French carrier amounted to a violation of their rights.

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It was however not clear why Air France shifted its schedules out of Paris to Lagos abruptly as efforts to reach the carrier proved abortive.

One of the passengers, Capt Noggie Meggison who was in transit from Canada told our correspondent said he had a heated with the staff of the airline in the Business Class Lounge as he expressed Nigerians’ dissatisfaction with the treatment meted out to the passengers.

The argument led to a threat by the airline’s official to threaten to invite the Police; a situation that infuriated the former President of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).

His understanding of the EU rule on delayed flights and compensation having spent over 40 years jolted the carrier’s officials who backed down on their threat.

“I am on a flight to Lagos. I have over 200 Nigerians here sitting down here and our flight has been delayed for hours. I came in from Canada at 8 am. We were all given vouchers of €15. They lack respect for Nigerians and people sitting down here; there is no hotel, and this is discriminatory and unacceptable. For an American flight, they will not do this”.

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One of the stranded passengers’ trouble started when the carrier offered to pay €15 food voucher which was rejected as they insisted on between €250 and €600 compensation per passenger according to EU Regulation 261/2004 as passenger rights in the event of a flight delay.

Explaining his ordeal, one of the passengers who simply gave his name as Adesina said he came in from Vancouver at about 8 am on Friday.

“We got a mail that our flight had been shifted to 10 pm. Before then, they changed our gate which was about three kilometres. When we went to complain, they gave us €15 voucher which is unacceptable. I only used it to buy water. It is not acceptable”, he added.

The provision of the rule stipulates that if your flight is delayed, you might be entitled to financial compensation. The amount of compensation is between €250 and €600 per passenger on the distance of the flight.

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You are also entitled to free of charge refreshments and beverages in a reasonable relation to the waiting time.

Based on European Regulations No 261/2004, passenger compensation for flight delays is calculated based on the distance of the flight. Passengers on flights that are delayed three or more hours are entitled to full compensation.

Short-distance flight delays up to 1,500km; passengers are due €250 compensation. Medium flight delays-community flights (within the EU) of more than 1,500km and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres; passengers are due €400 while long-distance flight delays of over 3,000 kilometres are due €600.

Wole Shadare