With the argument that "landings are often much bumpier" with low-cost airlines, TAP Air Portugal tried to have a passenger refused reimbursement for replacement flights in court. But the argument was not successful.
A passenger had booked a connecting flight from Berlin to Barcelona with TAP Air Portugal. The flights were cancelled, but the carrier did not offer same-day alternative transportation acceptable to the traveller. According to the lawyer Matthias Böse, who represented the passenger in court, the Portuguese airline also reacted in advance to the setting of deadlines for the granting of replacement carriage.
"Customer inquiries by e-mail are annoying for airlines: they are far too simple for consumers and thus provoke more claims, and such inquiries are also more unwieldy to process. TAP in particular lost to the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center before the LG Frankfurt and is no longer allowed to refer customers to the contact form," explains lawyer Matthias Böse to Aviation.Direct. Information about the judgment mentioned by the lawyer can be found with this link at the consumer center.
So the passenger organized alternative flights on his own: he booked the outbound flight again with TAP at a price of 203,38 euros and the return flight with Ryanair for 46,79 euros. Originally, the traveler had paid TAP 65,99 euros for the canceled return trip. The Air Passenger Rights Ordinance stipulates that airlines must provide alternative transportation. Supreme courts have determined, among other things, that the costs of these must be reimbursed if the provider does not meet the obligation.
No solution could be found with TAP Air Portugal out of court, so the case ended up before the district court of Königs Wusterhausen. The airline, represented by a Frankfurt law firm, tried literally by all means to avoid the obligation to pay.
“Replacement transport is a red rag for most airlines as soon as this has to be done on “foreign metal”. From low-cost airlines to 5-star airlines for the best status guests, airlines regularly refuse to make rebookings here," says Böse. "I can't understand how you can put obstacles in the way of passengers if they even minimize the damage to the airline when booking the replacement flight."
The core of the argument was that TAP Air Portugal did not want to pay the costs for the replacement flight with its competitor Ryanair. A brief was filed through the law firm, arguing that the Irish low-cost airline's replacement service was not comparable to that of TAP Air Portugal or Star Alliance.
"In this respect, it is quite important whether a cheap flight was booked or a flight with a Star Alliance airline. It should be common knowledge that low-cost airline flights have less space and no catering, and landings are often much bumpier,” the court filing reads. Initially, TAP Air Portugal did not respond to the fact that the passenger used the cheapest alternative as substitute transportation.
It was also not mentioned that the Portuguese airline has not offered included catering for a long time, but instead asks passengers to pay if they are hungry or thirsty. However, why "landings should often be much bumpier" could not be plausibly proven either. Ultimately, TAP Air Portugal's curious arguments were unsuccessful. You had to give in, so that the district court of Königs Wusterhausen issued a so-called acknowledgment judgment in favor of the passenger at the beginning of this year.