No show clause? No way… The Belgian consumers union starts legal proceedings

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By refusing to board passengers who have not used part of their combined ticket, airlines impose unnecessary charges. This must stop! The Belgian consumers union  Test Aankoop/Achats takes the case to court. The contracts of large airlines very often include a “no-show clause”. Passengers travelling with a combined ticket are dupes under certain circumstances. Test Aankoop/Achats intends to put an end to this unjustified practice.

The “no-show clause” is abusive

This “no-show clause” invoked by many airlines concerns passengers in possession of a combined ticket, that is to say in several parts, for example, a circuit with successive flights, or a train journey to the airport coupled with a flight, or a single round trip. The clause in question stipulates that the ticket is no longer valid for the rest of the journey as soon as the previous stage has not taken place, for example, because the flight was missed or because the passenger had not been able to fly for any reason. While the passenger had nevertheless paid the entire journey, the company assumed the right to resell his seat on the following flight to a passenger on a waiting list, without reimbursing the first traveller. In such cases, the unfortunate person has no choice but to pay a supplement, or even to buy a new ticket. If there is room left, he can still travel on the originally planned plane, but it is also possible that he can only find a later flight and that he has to spend a night at the hotel.

Europe remains silent

At the European level, there are no rules that forbid the “no-show” clause. For many years, Test Aankoop/Achats, together with other European consumer organisations, has been trying to make the European Union move in this regard. In vain, until now. But in some EU Member States, consumer organisations, such as OCU, the sister organization of Test Aankoop/Achats in Spain, have decided to bring the matter before the courts on the basis of other European rules allowing them to declare the “no-show clause” abusive. German, Austrian and Spanish judges have already ruled that this clause contravenes their national legislation based on the European directive on unfair terms. This resulted, as of now, in the condemnation of big companies like Lufthansa, British Airways and Iberia.

Test Aankoop/Achats takes the lead

Test Aankoop/Achats decided to act in Belgium also against the “no-show clause”. In September, the consumer organisation is likely to assist a Brussels Airlines passenger who is the victim of the famous clause, by requesting that this clause be invalidated and that the person concerned be compensated for any damage suffered as a result of its application. If the Belgian courts align themselves with the example of Germany, Austria and Spain, it is to be hoped that Europe will encourage airlines to ban the “No-show clause” of their contracts.

28 August 2017

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