After a detour to Bangor, do I deserve a ticket refund?

As SAS Flight 910 from Newark to Copenhagen climbed to its cruising altitude on June 20, one of its air conditioning units malfunctioned, forcing it to make an emergency landing in Bangor, Maine.

One of the passengers onboard, Jay Hillman, says SAS mishandled the incident from start to finish, and even though the airline flew him to Denmark the next day, he wants a full refund.

Does he deserve it? And if so, should I help him get it?

Generally, airlines don’t compensate passengers for mechanical delays, so I was interested in hearing how this one was, as Hillman put it, “the worst flight of my life.”

After the emergency landing, passengers were sent to the Fairfield Inn in Bangor. For the next 12 hours, they heard nothing from SAS.

“It seemed we were forgotten,” says Hillman. “Finally a message came: ‘Be ready in 30 minutes to go to the airport.’ Rushing to be ready, I skipped lunch, hearing it would be served at the airport. It was not. Instead, there was a two-hour queue to get a new boarding pass, which had passengers waiting outside the terminal in the sun.”

Once onboard, things took a turn for the worse.

No one could tell me the intended departure time. We waited a couple more hours. The pilot assured us the problem was solved and the plane was safe.

Unfortunately, the air conditioner was not fixed — just disconnected. I have ridden more comfortably on buses in Mexico.

Can it get any worse? Yes, it can.

An hour into the flight the video system lost power in half the plane, and then the reading lamps failed, inspiring little confidence in the plane and leaving me with nothing to do but reflect on my destiny until dinner was served.

And then …

The woman next to me and I were stunned to find a long hair embedded in my chicken dish, because we had just said to each other this could not get any worse.

Hillman’s four-day weekend was abbreviated by one day as a result of this mechanical failure. Given the incompetence of SAS, he feels a full refund of his ticket is in order.

“I paid $1,500 for my round-trip ticket for my weekend in Copenhagen,” he says. “I spent that because SAS has always been timely, because I value a direct flight, and because I trust the SAS team’s pilots. I lost one of my three days on holiday to a miserable and disorganized voyage.”

The SAS contract of carriage (PDF) is confusing on this issue. Section 9.3.3. notes that for a delay of over five hours, you may be entitled to a full refund of your ticket, but that appears to be referencing the controversial EU 261 consumer regulation, which SAS would argue doesn’t apply to this flight.

Here’s how SAS responded to him.

Thank you for your correspondence regarding an irregularity experienced while traveling with SAS.

Due to the technical malfunction on board SK910/20JUN it was decided to perform safety landing at the nearest airport, which was in Bangor, Maine.

It is always our aim to minimize the strain and consequences imposed on our passengers when an irregularity occurs. Please accept our apologies for any lapse in service on this occasion.

We certainly regret that your travel plans were disrupted. Your disappointment and inconvenience is understandable. We, again, offer our sincere apologies.

As a gesture of good will, and to show our concern, under separate coverage we will be sending you gift vouchers in the amount of 300EUR. These vouchers are good for travel on SAS flights only and are valid for one year from the date of issue.

We value your patronage, and hope we shall have another opportunity of welcoming you aboard SAS again in the future and of serving you to your full satisfaction.

SAS remains at your service.

A 300 euro voucher? Not enough, says Hillman.

The more I consider this case, the more I think Hillman should argue that EU 261 applies to this mechanical delay. I note that the SAS definition of “extraordinary circumstances” is not in line with the most current definition as defined by the EU courts. There might be some room for negotiation.

But I don’t know if the laundry-list approach is as compelling, and I’m not sure if my involvement would change anything. But I would be willing to try, if you think it’s worth pursuing.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    On the fence with this one. Sounds like everything that could go wrong, did… He did lose 25% of his holiday but then again, has a credit worth 30% of what he paid for the flight… I’d see if you could maybe get it up to 50% credit or 30% cash back which I think would be fair. But a FULL refund? That’d be like hitting the jackpot…

  • jpp42

    I agree, I definitely don’t think it deserves a full refund, but the flight credit seems to be worth nothing given that another trip on that airline within a year is perhaps unlikely to be taken by the OP. Minor math note, $300 out of $1500 means the credit is worth 20% of the flight, not 30%. I agree that a credit worth 50% might be enough to entice the OP to try that airline again despite the problems, otherwise the credit is worthless. I find it unlikely they would give cash back at all.

  • john4868

    Normally I’d say that $400 (the approximate value of the voucher) would be enough. However, I thought EU 261 would apply in this case since its an EU flagged carrier flying into the EU.

  • Richard

    ‘Community carrier’ means an air carrier with a valid operating
    licence granted by a Member State in accordance with
    the provisions of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2407/92 of
    23 July 1992 on licensing of air carriers (1);

  • Richard

    EU261 clearly applies in this case. EU courts have rules several times that mechanical problems are not an ‘extraodinary circumstance’.


    It matters not that an airlines is an EU flagged carrier. EU261 applies to all airlines entering into and leaving from the EU. See 2.c below.

    ‘Community carrier’ means an air carrier with a valid operating
    licence granted by a Member State in accordance with
    the provisions of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2407/92 of
    23 July 1992 on licensing of air carriers (1);


    Article 14 was clearly not implemented: Obligation to inform passengers of their rights . Look 14.2

    Further more the CoC is clealy subordinate to EU261: Look at 15.1

    Obligations vis-à-vis passengers pursuant to this Regulation
    may not be limited or waived, notably by a derogation
    or restrictive clause in the contract of carriage.

    Richard from France

  • sirwired

    While a $300 voucher is clearly not enough, a full round-trip refund seems like a bit much. The case seems ripe for mediation.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Anyone who complains about airline food loses all street cred in my book.

    But, if EU 261 should apply, then give him the refund.

    I got nothing witty or charming at 4AM. Sorry, guys.

  • Kevin Mathews

    The vouchers were for 300 Euro which is about $390. So, more like 26% instead of 30%…

  • Kevin Mathews

    You should’ve waited an hour or two until you had your coffee, then replied…

  • DChamp56

    When will someone (you Chris?) create an upstart movement that says “If I pay in cash, I get reimbursed in CASH, not vouchers!”

  • TonyA_says

    Do you think someone is lying?

    Incident: SAS A333 near Bangor on Jun 20th 2012, smoke in cabin
    By Simon Hradecky, created Thursday, Jun 21st 2012 08:14Z, last updated Thursday, Jun 21st 2012 08:19ZA
    SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A330-300, registration SE-REF
    performing flight SK-910 from Newark,NJ (USA) to Copenhagen (Denmark)
    with 261 passengers and 11 crew, was enroute at FL290 about 20nm
    southwest of Bangor,ME (USA) when the crew decided to divert to Bangor
    due to visible smoke in the cabin and smell of smoke in the cockpit, the
    crew reported smoke in the cabin. While maneouvering to capture the
    localizer runway 33 the crew reported smoke was no longer visible in the
    cabin, air traffic control advised ILS runway 33 was in service but
    glideslope inoperative. The aircraft performed a localizer approach to
    Bangor’s runway 33, landed safely about 18 minutes after leaving FL290
    and vacated the runway, the crew reported everything was back to normal
    and taxied to the apron. No injuries and no damage occurred.

    The airline confirmed there was visible smoke in the cabin and smell of
    smoke in the cockpit. The passengers were taken to hotels, the aircraft
    is currently being examined.


  • Extramail

    On all of these “refunds”, I agree with Dave – if I pay cash, I want cash back. No funny money vouchers!

  • Charlie Funk

    EU 261 applies since it was a flight destined for an EU country on an EU registered airline.

  • TonyA_says

    Why does EC261 clearly apply in this case? Do you have any proof the flight diversion was NOT an caused by “extraordinary circumstances”?

    Maybe a simple google search will reveal a newsworthy article.

  • Frequentfliermom

    A 300 dollar voucher on the same airline to be used within one year is a joke. When you spend $1,500 for a weekend in Copenhagen, and you get only 2 to the 3 days there, on top of the miserable travel experience, you should have cash back. Maybe not 100%, but certainly a large portion of the the ticket price. And no vouchers!

  • TonyA_says

    If a REFUND is in order; sure – the airline will refund on the original form of payment. But many times an airline will allow the re-use of a cancelled, non-refundable ticket by issuing a certificate. That’s a lot better than losing the whole amount. It is definitely not intended to be a reimbursement of the ticket.

    In the OP’s case, SAS was not reimbursing the passenger for expenses. SAS was NOT REFUNDING the ticket either. And, SAS was not paying them compensation under EC261. They were giving away certificates as a sign on goodwill. If SAS were compensating the passengers under EC261/2004, then they would have asked for their bank account numbers.

  • Joe Farrell

    honestly – why was one non-working AC pack an MEL item resulting in an immediate diversion? What else was not working?

    There is a little bit more to this story:

    It does appear that at a remote destination, with no coverage, no services and no ability to do maintenance because contract maintenance on an A330 requires someone who works on Airbusses – the closest maintenance was in Montreal or Toronto – it pretty hard to address the passenger issues when there is no one in charge. The Captain of the flight should have remained in charge – but honestly he prob is prohibited from making any decisions for passengers on the ground.

    Lets not forget the last time a European crew failed to heed the smell of smoke and fire warnings – the airplane crashed into the ocean from a real fire.

    ‘Extraordinary?’ Is a diversion for a mechanical ‘extra ordinary?’ Doubt it. Did the flight declare an emergency or was this merely a precautionary landing. If the flight did not declare an ‘E’ then its not by it terms ‘extra ordinary.’ If they did – then they have an argument at least it was extraordinary. Absent proof of extraordinary, its not.

  • Joe Farrell

    the amount of the refund here needs to for this flight only – not the entire trip. There is no complaint about the return flight. Yes – he lost 25% of his vacation time – at that point I would have elected transportation from BGR to EWR and a full refund – but thats me. He should be refunded however much his fare was with tax from EWR-CPH.

  • Michael__K

    According to other news reports found through google search (and corroborated by the OP’s account), the smoke condition was caused by a malfunctioning air conditioning unit.

    How would that qualify as “extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided by any reasonable measure?”

  • Michael__K

    The Star Alliance flight was flying from Newark, New Jersey to Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday when the plane filled with smoke. After landing safely at BIA passengers and crew were put up at area hotels for the night.

    [Bangor International Airport Interim Director] Caruso says the problem was a malfunctioning air conditioning unit which has been fixed. He said, “We had our mechanics work on the problem last night and we are now waiting for a mechanic to come in to sign off the work and make sure everything was done to FAA standards. ”

    Since 2004, BIA has accepted 627 diverted flights. Of those, only about 50 have been maintenance related.

  • john4868

    @joefarrell did you realize that your link is a 2009 story?

  • Daddydo

    Fight this one for a loss in column A. It appears to be a mechanical in every single way. I demand cash, I sue, I complain, and I still would lose. Take the credit and carry a doggy bag next flight.

  • TonyA_says

    Joe is referring to a JUNE 2009 incident of the same flight.
    3 years later a similar thing happened.
    Smoke in the cockpit is extraordinary, wouldn’t you think so?

  • tio2girl

    Agreed. Especially since a trip like this might be a one time occurrence. I know I don’t have the time or funds to take long weekend trips to Europe (or even domestic) on a yearly basis.

  • TonyA_says

    Even if you continue your line of reasoning, the compensation for a DELAY is NOT A REFUND OF THE WHOLE TICKET.

    Michael are you an aircraft mechanic? Which reasonable measure are you specifically pointing out that would have prevented flight diversion? I am taking the airline’s word in this one.

  • Michael__K

    You questioned whether EC261 was applicable and my comment was purely to address that issue.

    My understanding of European court decisions is the same as Richard’s: “technical faults within an aircraft” are not considered an “extraordinary circumstance.”

    You don’t need to be an aircraft mechanic to understand that this sort of event shouldn’t happen with well-designed and well-maintained and inspected parts. If there’s some special reason why SAS thinks that this case doesn’t fit the courts’ criteria of a “technical fault” then it’s incumbent on SAS to explain why. If you notice, they skirt the issue entirely and make no representations whatsoever regarding EC261 in the response Chris quotes.

  • LFH0

    The statement, “I have ridden more comfortably on buses in Mexico,” while likely true, unfairly suggests that buses in Mexico are not comfortable. The buses operated throughout Mexico by ETN, ADO Platino, Ave, and Turistar Lujo, and several other regional bus companies, are among the most comfortable buses in the world, and would put virtually any airline to the test. Between 2-and-1 seating, seats which recline to virtual horizontal position, seatback video with individual remote control, separate washrooms for men and ladies, snacks, beverages, and self-service tea and coffee, etc., most airlines can only aspire to be more like these Mexican buses.

  • commentfromme

    I think that whatever resolution you negotiate for this particular passenger, should be given to each passenger on the flight. It seems everyone was treated the same. The fact that his trip was brief does not change the basic issue of the flight situation.

  • TonyA_says

    Are you accusing SAS of knowingly flying a airplane with a malfunctioning ACU?
    Wouldn’t that have shown some symptom on the CPH ->EWR flight, and SAS intentionally delaying repair till they got home?

  • LeeAnneClark

    This is true! I only WISH most of my flights were as comfortable as the Mexican buses I’ve been on. And you don’t even have to get your naughty bits groped in order to get on them!

  • Joe Farrell

    Having it happen twice because of the same reason? Nope – not extraordinary – it is in fact a common problem on Airbus A330-300 circulating fans

  • Michael__K

    I quoted a relevant news article, just like you did.

    I haven’t accused anyone of lying.

    I assume no pilot would fly the plane or hand it off to the next pilot if they had full knowledge of the issue. What does that have to do with whether the OP is telling the truth or whether he is eligible for some reimbursement under EC 261?

  • TonyA_says

    The beauty of EC261/2004 is that very little math has to be done at all.
    The amount of compensation is decided by distance of the flight and length of delay (not the cost of the ticket).

    We are talking about compensation of 600 Euros for a flight more than 3,500 kilometers delayed by four or more hours.

    The only “out” of the carrier in this case is if it can prove that
    the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken

    From the way the previous paragraph is worded, it is no wonder there are so many disputes. Who are we to determine if all reasonable measures had been taken? Unless something is damn obvious as in the Hermann v Alitalia landmark case (where Alitalia ‘knew’ of the problem) then this clause is one for the aviation experts. You can see why an airline won’t just pay out this kind of compensation without a fight.

    Under EC261 Article 8, Refunds of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, together with, when relevant … meaning CANCELLATION.

    So if the passenger continued to fly to their destination, refunds are out of the picture.

  • TonyA_says

    Returning to ones first point of departure (and not continuing the journey as planned) and getting a refund within 7 days is definitely an option under EC261.

  • TonyA_says

    According to some experts, a flight gets diverted everyday in the USA. If it was that easy to prevent this, I am sure the airlines would have thought about it already since diversions are expensive and disruptive. I recommend you read the ruling on Hermann v. Alitalia. To make the airline have to prove every delay is beyond their control, IMO, is almost crazy. They have better things to do than go to court every day.

  • TonyA_says

    So what do you propose they do? Don’t the airlines simply have to follow Airbus recommendations?

  • TonyA_says

    Because if they knew about the problem, then it was obviously preventable. They they are at fault, period.

    The OP never mentioned SMOKE in the CABIN. All he says is that the AC malfunctioned and if you read his next complain it was about being hotter than hades. Failure to mention SMOKE (and a possible fire) is misrepresenting the problem or potential problem.

    Most of the attention was drawn to his INCONVENIENCE and not the safety of ALL passengers.

    The hero here is the captain and the crew for SAFELY landing a aircraft (full of fuel). Considering that BGR has very few flights and mainly services Embraers and CRJs, then you can bet they had to fly in an Airbus mechanic to “fix” the problem.

  • Cybrsk8r

    So, when you find hair or a fingernail clipping in your food when you eat out, I guess it doesn’t bother you?

  • Michael__K

    How many of those flights are diverted for technical faults? The story I linked to says that only 50 of 627 (i.e. 8%) of flight diversions to Bangor since 2004 were maintenance related. This case is not about a flight that was diverted because of a sick/unruly passenger or because of a sudden weather event.

    Technical faults will never be zero because humans are human. That doesn’t make it beyond the carriers’ control and it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

    The Hermann vs. Alitalia precedent is clearly on the OP’s side:

  • Michael__K

    As Joe points out, this appears to have happened before, so it should have been a known maintenance/inspection priority.

    Why are you trying to make the OP Into a villain? Criticize him for asking for a full refund (which is more than EC 261 or common sense entitles him to). But I don’t see the relevance of your point about smoke.

    Your own link BTW says there was “some smoke in the cabin and smell of smoke in the cockpit” but that shortly thereafter (before targeting the runway) “the crew reported smoke was no longer visible in the cabin.” Prudently, they proceeded with the diverted landing anyway.

    An A330 is a large plane, and from that description it wouldn’t be shocking if many passengers didn’t “experience” the smoke.

  • TonyA_says

    Smoke in the cabin, smelled on the cockpit. What should a pilot do, ignore it? Please read what happened to Swissair 111 from JFK. Now you understand why SMOKE IS 100% RELEVANT.
    They did not divert simply because the AC was not working, they diverted because of SMOKE! (The airport manager blamed the AC only after they landed. I don’t think they knew what was causing the smoke before the decided to land immediately.)

    Note: I am the one who pointed out the 2 similar events in 3 years. I have no reason to believe that they did not repair the first problem so it led to the second problem 3 years after.

    I don’t even know if it was the same aircraft. That said there are a number of incidents worldwide about smoke in the cabin on A330s.

    The basic question here is whether the SMOKE that caused the delay based on ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Let SAS argue that with the Statens Luftfartsvæsen of Denmark (the proper enforcement body which the OP should file a complaint with). But unless the OP complains in the proper places, there is no reason for SAS to do anything different. As far as I know, they complied with EU261 “Passenger Care” provisions.

  • TonyA_says

    Another exaggeration here: “There was a two-hour queue to get a new boarding pass, which had passengers waiting outside the terminal in the sun.”

    Passengers continued on to Copenhagen, the next day on:
    Flight SK6900 21JUN BGR-CPH
    Scheduled Departure: 5:10 PM – Thu 21-Jun (runway)
    Actual Departure: 7:26 PM – Thu 21-Jun-2012 (runway)

    What was the weather like around 2-3PM (most likely check in time) in BGR on 21JUN, about 2 hours before scheduled departure?
    That’s easy, look here:

    Time (EDT) Temp. Humidity Conditions
    12:53 PM 75.9 °F 52% Overcast
    1:53 PM 78.1 °F 50% Mostly Cloudy
    2:53 PM 78.1 °F 56% Mostly Cloudy
    3:53 PM 80.1 °F 56% Scattered Clouds

    I don’t know about you, but less than 80 deg temp, 50% humidity and under mostly cloudy weather does not sound like torture to me.

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s one that just happened.

    Let’s see if they will be compensated :-)

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s another one. Baltimore Orioles flight diverted because of smoke.

  • TonyA_says
  • TonyA_says
  • AUSSIEtraveller

    they got you there eventually.
    What would you rather, they got you there “dead” on time, as in deceased, as aircraft crashed ?
    Get a life.
    I wouldn’t have given you a voucher for 300 North American pesos. (USD$)

  • Michael__K

    Who suggested they shouldn’t divert? How did you interpret my words (“Prudently, they proceeded with the diverted landing anyway”) as an argument against diverting?

    You began by accusing the OP of lying. Then you attacked him for not mentioning the smoke to Chris (you don’t know if he did or didn’t and you don’t even know if he noticed any smoke himself and it’s also irrelevant with respect to whether an EC261 refund applies).

    Chris makes it clear that the OP got just 300 Euro in vouchers, which demonstrates that SAS did not issue any EC261 compensation.

    I can’t even tell what we’re discussing anymore.

  • MarkieA

    So now you, who question every single assumption made by posters on this blog, using a variant of, “You weren’t there, how do you know?” are actually disputing the weather with someone who WAS actually there? Wow.

  • y_p_w

    I would think one might be able to drive from Portland, although it might be interesting trying to borrow one from a small airport with limited maintenance staff.

  • y_p_w

    I think it’s the whole laundry list that’s causing some to question how accurate the OP’s description was of the situation.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Uhhh… yeah. Maybe it’s time to put this conversation to bed.

  • Joe Farrell

    the point being that smoke in the cockpit on Airbus aircraft seems to be a fairly common occurrence requiring diversion. Thus – given the common nature of such events it is not ‘extra ordinary’ is it? I’ve been flying on Douglas, Boeing and even Convair jets since 1965 and have never had a smoke in the cabin / cockpit diversion. . . .

  • TonyA_says

    Joe, the FAA says it has about 900 smoke in cabin/cockpit reported each year. Now these are incidents that are SDR reported. I have read that many don’t bother to report at all, suggesting that 900 is a low number. Obviously with these many occurrences, no one can say these are very rare. That is not the argument.

    But EC261 use the term “extraordinary CIRCUMSTANCES” (not occurrences). Airlines can weasel out of paying compensation using this clause:

    An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay
    compensation [in accordance with Article 7], if it can prove that
    the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances
    which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable
    measures had been taken.

  • TonyA_says

    Are you disputing the weather and METAR measurements at the airport?

  • TonyA_says

    In the 2009 similar incident, SAS brought a mechanic all the way from Europe. I think some articles mentioned Boston and Toronto as having Airbus repair techs.

  • MarkieA

    I have a problem with this way at looking at things; it appears to be getting more prevalent these days, I don’t know. When you pay for something, there is a certain minimum level of quality you expect. Sure, it varies from person to person, but I would think that this OP’s experience wouldn’t meet anyone’s reasonable minimum. Service providers, especially, have been working hard to lower our expectations and, apparently, they are succeeding. “They got you there eventually.” Really? That’s your minimum requirement? Keep lowering those expectations; they love you.

  • TonyA_says

    @disqus_ELmgCm17og:disqus @Michael__K:disqus

    Dear Richard and Michael, I suggest you read EU261/2004 in its entirety.

    EC261 Right to Compensation clearly does NOT apply to this case. Why?

    The fact is the pilot made a divert because of smoke in the cabin/cockpit. A fact conveniently left out in the story.
    That emergency landing is an Unexpected Flight Safety Shortcoming.
    And, Number 14 of the Preamble of EC261 clearly states:

    (14) As under the Montreal Convention, obligations on operating air carriers should be limited or excluded in cases where an event has been caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances may, in particular, occur in cases of political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the operation of an operating air carrier.

    Therefore, he does not get Article 7, Right to Compensation.

    As we have read the OP is demanding a refund of his entire ticket. He does not have a right to that under EC261 because he opted to continue (re-routing) with his flights the next day on 21JUN (and I assumed he also took his return flight). Article 8, is a Right to reimbursement OR re-routing. Not both.

    The affected passengers have a Right to Care (Article 9) and they got it since they were put up and transported to and from hotels.

    That said, SAS does not owe the OP a cent. In fact he should be grateful for the 300 Euro certificate.

    Finally, in my opinion, those requesting for EU261 compensation should simply stick with the facts and forget including irrelevant statements like:
    a) the worst flight of my life
    b) I skipped lunch
    c) there was a two-hour queue to get a new boarding pass, which had passengers waiting outside the terminal in the sun
    d) the video system lost power in half the plane, and then the reading lamps failed, inspiring little confidence in the plane and leaving me with nothing to do but reflect on my destiny until dinner was served.
    e) The woman next to me and I were stunned to find a long hair embedded in my chicken dish
    f) I lost one of my three days on holiday to a miserable and disorganized voyage.

    If the OP was entitled to compensation, it would not have been due to these irrelevant complaints. EC261 compensation would be due to a delay, cancellation, or denied boarding only.

    Now that EU261 Compensation does NOT apply to the OP, and the airline already gave him a Euro 300 certificate, I wonder what leverage the OP still think he has?

  • TonyA_says

    Why so? Under USA rules the OP was not entitled to compensation or food and lodging unless the airline’s COCs explicit committed it to him (or for tarmac delay). In the USA the customer expectation is set in the COCs and the Passenger Service Plan statement. As for pricing, the airline is matching supply and demand so they can get maximize revenue.

    If we need to lower our expectations it is because there is a race to the bottom with regards to fares. We are simply getting what we are paying for.

    My wife took our cat to the vet this morning. She heard a famous comedian who was complaining that Delta would not allow his pets to travel with him to Europe. So he decided to use Delta Private Jets instead. The airline certainly loved his higher expectations and was willing to charge for it.

  • jim6555

    Something that I can’t understand is why the aircraft made an emergency landing due to a failed air conditioning system on day 1 and then operated with the air conditioning system still not functioning on day 2. Forget the technicalities. SAS mishandled the passenger situation on the ground in Bangor and in the air. The passengers endured much discomfort and inconvenience and therefore are entitled to much more than what was offered to Mr. Hillman,

  • TonyA_says

    The pilot diverted because of SMOKE IN CABIN. Regardless of the cause, smoke usually means FIRE, so it was prudent of the pilot to land as soon as possible and get it checked out. Note, most pilots remember Swissair 111 so there will be a strong tendency to land at the closest airport before they attempt to cross the Atlantic.

    While we do not really know how many AC Packs or fans were running, the MINIMUM number of equpiment that must be functional at DISPATCH is determined by the FAA MMEL for that type of aircraft.

    Regarding discomfort or inconvenience, there is no US DOT rule that requires airlines to compensate you for delays or cancellations. You have rights under the Montreal Convention, but you must prove the ‘damages’ in court. Thank goodness the OP was flying on a EU community carrier, otherwise there would not have been any discussion about EU261 rights. So even if you feel tremendous sympathy for the OP, unless we change US law to compensate for long delays and to require a certain level of care, then we are mostly dependent on the airlines “generosity”.

    Regarding SAS mishandling the situation in Bangor, Maine. SAS does not have operations in BGR airport. BGR is a small commercial airport with a very long runway used for military purposes. Therefore both SAS and the airport will have to work on a non-normal mode. Their primary concern is the SAFETY of all passengers and getting them to their final destination as soon as possible. I suggest that those criticizing SAS under these conditions explain how one can do a better job.

    Finally, I would not read too much with the media reports other than the fact the captain diverted the airplane because of smoke in the cabin. If you are that interested about what happened then you might want to search for an incident or SDR filing with the FAA.

  • Michael__K

    “unexpected flight safety shortcomings” means an unruly passenger, a bomb threat, etc.

    The courts have already spoken on this.

  • somnambulist

    He wasn’t presenting his groundwork for an EC261 case, per se. He was stating how he feels his flight was a failure from the point of view of a consumer. The fact that, from this, the blogger thinks he may have a case based on what you are short handing as “EC261” is lovely, but is irrelevant, at least initially, to the OP. He wants a refund because of a miserable experience that he feels ruined his trip. In that case all of the above that you strangely, carefully list is in fact relevant.

    Tony, interestingly, does not seem to see this as an idea of ‘what’s right.’ i.e: Tony feels businesses should only be obligated based on whatever fine print is in whatever the law is (and, let’s face it, Tony probably feels any laws protecting consumers/people should be abolished). While that’s interesting, many of us view consumer cases from a POV of “fair play.” So, was this experience so terrible that the person deserves a refund? Or is the airline’s obligation merely to get you from point A to point B, regardless of your comfort? Are there any standards the airline should be required to meet, or, that we expect them to meet, in exchange for our ticket purchase?

    I get that Tony feels this is very strictly a question of what the airline can get away with, not what we would consider right or fair. But… having read some of Tony’s other comments… I think Tony may be a crazy person. So there’s also that.

  • TonyA_says

    Unfortunately that’s not how airline contracts work.
    As I said, if he felt that SAS ruined his vacation, then he has the right under the Montreal Convention to sue. He can try to file a claim under EU261 but I already gave y’all a preview of what the airline will probably do to deny his claim. But if you expect SAS just to refund his whole ticket for what he said happened, then you are not being realistic.

    There are a lot of shameful things airlines do. IMO, this is NOT one of them. If you have been reading this blog long enough, you will have probably recognized that I am not one sided pro-airline or pro-supplier.

    An airline is a carrier – a form of transportation. They can’t and won’t guarantee to take your from point A to B on time. That said, they cannot guarantee your vacation.

    I have been called worse than ‘crazy’ so I will let that be.:-)

  • Joe Farrell

    I don’t propose anything – EU261 takes care of the ‘what they need to do.’ The airline bought Airbus aircraft and smoke from AC pack circulating fans is quite common – it is not ‘extraordinary.’ The international airline needs to make the emergency but precautionary landing and then compensate its passengers if EU261 applies to the flight. . .

  • Joe Farrell

    No Tony but do you know what Mostly Cloudy means? That is NOT a METAR – the METAR shows:

    METAR KBGR 212053Z 02003KT 10SM FEW120 SCT250 27/18 A2974 RMK AO2 SLP069 T02720178 57015 $
    METAR KBGR 212153Z 03004KT 10SM FEW110 SCT250 27/18 A2974 RMK AO2 SLP067 T02720183 $
    METAR KBGR 212253Z 14003KT 10SM FEW100 27/19 A2973 RMK AO2 SLP063 T02720189 $
    METAR KBGR 212353Z 19005KT 10SM FEW120 24/17 A2974 RMK AO2 SLP067 T02440172 10278 20244 55001 $

    These show high cirrus clouds at 25,000 feet and scattered at best- in the REAL world these would be a sunny day in New England. Tony, you need to sit down and leave the ‘facts’ to the professionals . . .

  • BMG4ME

    This reminds me of that Stephen King movie where the plane got diverted to Bangor instead of Boston.

  • Rainbow_Zebras

    I appreciate the passenger’s frustrations – it has happened to me at times whilst flying in Europe with other airlines. As mad as we are about giving great customer service in my company there has to be a respectable limit in this case – what happens if everyone decided they wanted a full refund, there wouldn’t be many airlines left in business in my opinion.

    I personally feel SAS should offer the chap some kind of financial recompense for the loss of one day in Copenhagen.

    On the other hand just offering vouchers to the tune of EU300 to spend onboard doesn’t really sound great for the customer but at least it acknowledges the airline is listening.

  • MSJ

    Clearly no refund. I was on that plane aswell and yes the flight did not turn out as expected but SAS and the cabine crew did a great job at trying to get the best out of an unfortunate situation. Several of the statemens in the complain are also straight out untrue. As an example lunch WAS served at Bangor airport while we were waiting for checkin. The entertainment system in half of the plane DID NOT break down on the way to Copenhagen. Half of the airconditioner equipment on the plane was functional on the way to Copenhagen and after 15 min in the air the temperatur was normal (not like a mexican bus). These are just three examples and it makes me think that this guy is simply trying to turn this episode into cash.