A Dispute With Norwegian Air Shuttle

Traveling is not always a dance on roses. Not everything goes as smoothly as you’d probably wish when traveling. For us it happened in Helsinki in the beginning of May this year when we were preparing for our return flight with Norwegian to Stockholm.

A couple of hours before departure we received an text message from Norwegian Air Shuttle telling us that our flight had been canceled. So after a great weekend in Helsinki we were in quite a rush to find a solution to get back home in time for work on Monday. As it was impossible to get hold of Norwegian on the phone at the time, we had to go to the airport to sort the matter.

You can read more about the weekend in Helsinki here >>

Our Options According to Norwegian

As the Norwegian website did not give us sufficient information (in our opinion), we decided to go to the airport and let them find a way for us to get back home. We were quite lucky and there was no queue at the well-hidden service center at Helsinki Airport. And even better, the girl behind the desk was really friendly and helpful. She was probably an employee of the airport and not Norwegian, but she tried to assist with most of our problems. We were told that the flight had been canceled because of staff shortage on the previous flight from Stockholm to Helsinki.

So what options did we receive? These were the two options we could choose between:

  • We could be rescheduled on the next flight to Stockholm. Actually Norwegian has several daily flights between the two capitals, but they were all sold out. This meant that the option was to fly early the next morning to Copenhagen and from there to Stockholm.
  • We could be refunded the price of the tickets and purchase new tickets with for example Finnair or SAS.

Chosen Solution

Considering the fact that the cost of the new tickets would be considerably more expensive than the ones that we already had we felt forced to accept the flight the next day. This option meant that we would arrive in Stockholm at around 10 AM. In other words, we were to land 14 hours later than expected.

So we got a voucher for a hotel room and dinner at a hotel in Vantaa, the city just next to the airport. Our evening was nice. We had a walk around in the area and enjoyed a hamburger for dinner.

In the morning we took the free shuttle bus back to the airport and got on our first flight to Copenhagen. We were not the only ones heading in the wrong direction that morning as we flew past Sweden and landed in Denmark. There it was only a short wait before the second flight and we were soon back on Swedish soil. By this time we were in a hurry to minimize the time we were delayed for work.

DSC_0587

Aftermath

Once back home from work that evening we contacted Norwegian to claim a compensation for the canceled flight. This is in line with the EU Regulation 261/2004 that sets common rules for all European airlines.

According to the regulation and because our distance of flying was under 1500 km we would in the event of a delay of more than 2 hours or a canceled flight be eligible to a compensation of 250 Euros per person. This is normal procedure in cases where the cause of the delay or the cancellation is within the control of the airline. We considered that our delay had been within the control of Norwegian. Why? Because staff shortage tends to be an issue dealt by the employer. As far as we are concerned, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that there is enough staff at any workplace.

It took almost a month before Norwegian replied to our claim. Their answer was that the delay had not been within their control and that the cause of the canceled flight was sickness. They rejected our claim without further explanation or proof. This didn’t cause us to give up our claim, so we contacted the Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket in Swedish). As we flew from Helsinki they almost at once forwarded our request to their Finnish counterpart (Kuluttajariitalautakunta). We needed to send some more information to Finland. A few days later we received an e-mail from Norwegian stating that they have reviewed our case a second time and that they only needed our bank account number to make the transfer of the money. They had also added the Finnish Consumer Agency on copy. Thus we assume that the Finnish Consumer Agency had contacted Norwegian regarding the case.

Result and Conclusion

Almost 3 months after the canceled flight I saw that we had received a transaction from Norwegian of 500 Euros.

So, why complain in cases like this one?

In our opinion it should make an economic impact for the airlines to cancel flights. As long as the EU regulations are followed we think it makes a blow to the airlines. Now, we are lucky enough to have understanding employers, but usually people count to be somewhere on a Monday. It could have been an important meeting, a funeral, a wedding. Anything like that. Consumer rights exist for a reason, and consumers also need to stand up for each other.

We suspect that these issues apply to most airlines. They will try to reject most claims and hope that people will just accept their response. If you feel that cause of the delay is within the control of the airline and they do not provide a good explanation, don’t give up! Continue with your claim, take it to the next instance. Some countries do have a Consumer Agency that will assist you for free.

We think that it is sad that Norwegian seems to have such large problems with canceled flights at the moment. The airline has really good prices and destinations from Stockholm. Because we no longer trust them, we will try to avoid them until they seem to be back in control. And until they have enough staff for their flights! Hopefully the management will try to improve the situation. We want to add that the all the people we talked to were nice and helpful. This applies to the staff at the airport and the Norwegian Customer Relations Team.

Going Further

Do you want to read more about your passenger rights? This is what the European Union has to say on the matter >>

Have you ever had your flight canceled or delayed? What did you do?

Quote Henry Ford

 

Share

22 Comments

  1. Yes. We’d been to Poland for the weekend with friends. They had children they needed to get back for and our return flight was cancelled! No help at the airport, told to re-book but no facilities to do this available. Through a very complicated process, call to a Polish friend in London, a train ride through the dark from Prague to the capital, two flights, one train journey back to the destination airport where we had left our car and then 20 hours later home. Our friends claimed we didn’t get our act together. I will say though reminiscing about that journey has been great fun, it felt like a real adventure and cemented the friendship. 🙂

    1. Susann

      Ouch, that sounds like a real nightmare when it happened. But you’re right – it really feels like an adventure afterwards. And these adventures make good stories!

  2. we don’t have such regulations till now here in India, but I guess the civil aviation ministry has recently come up with some new directives on the issues. It’s quite a bit harassment, it seems first on flight delay and then on compensation.

  3. Ugh, what a frustrating situation. Where I live, flights mostly get cancelled because of the weather. When that happens, customers are not entitiled to refunds or basically anything. But everyone knows the airline industry in the US is crap 😛

  4. Been there done that! The same thing happened to me in Helsinki with Norwegian too. My flight to Madrid was cancelled but I got no text message or notification of it. I only discovered it 30 minutes befoe boarding time when I saw ”cancelled” on the screen monitor. I tried calling their service for 3 hours and finally, someone from Norway answered and informed me that there were no flights to Madrid today unless I was willing to pay 600€ for business class flight. I had connection flight from Madrid with another airline the following day so I had to get there before the afternoon. So after long phone conversation, they agreed to get on a flight to Oslo and from Oslo to Barcelona, where I’d had to catch a train to Madrid with my own cost. So I arrived at Madrid more than 24 hours later and I had travelled for 30 hours straight. Wasn’t the best experience.

  5. Are these airline reimbursements on all EU airlines? Even if leaving from the US and/or the flier is a US citizen? I’m pretty sure the US doesn’t have anything like this at the moment since I’ve dealt with a number of cancelled flights here. But good for you for sticking with it, staying persistent, and getting your money back 🙂

  6. I loved what you guys did – persisted with the claim, which was well within your rights. Airlines certainly need to understand that there is economic impact for for travelers in such cases, so they need to be compensated. I wish rules were as stringent in India as well…

  7. Most of us traveling frequently have a preset itinerary and in the case of such delays, it can cause problems in our daily schedule. I did not know about this rule and will definitely keep it in mind for my travel around Europe. It is good that you persisted and got 500 euros after almost 3 months.

  8. It is really problematic sometimes. Especially if you are on a tight schedule. My flight was delayed once but thankfully the airport authorities helped. Been really lucky on that day. But yes as a consumer we need to stand up and fight for our rights which is SERVICE.

  9. I can very well relate to the hassles you had to go through. But hats off to you; for being so persistent and firm to take the reimbursements. I got aware of such guidelines on reimbursements from your post and further really need to check these for Indian airlines.

  10. These kind of hurdles come up quite often. And, it can have a cascading effect over the consecutive plans. We need to know our rights and consumers and customers. This is a good informative article 🙂

  11. Awesome post, thanks for sharing! It’s so important to put your foot down for your rights. They can’t treat customers like that. It’s ridiculous. I had a huge feeling of justice when I read your post 🙂 🙂 Well done! XX

  12. I never had a canceled flight before but I did have my share of airline troubles when they lost my luggage or when they overbooked the flight. While in the second instance I received a very fair compensation on the spot, when an airline lost my luggage I had to go through a war with them in order to get my rights respected. As you say, most people will accept the denial of the airline. However, if you go further with your claim, they will start taking you seriously.

  13. That’s unfortunate. But I guess frequent travellers are bound to face it once in a while. Law of averages I guess. I have had strange experiences like trains running late by 24 hours and there are no provisions for compensating for those here!

  14. Thanks for the post we weren’t aware until now about the claims for canceled flights. We had faced this once when our flight from Prague back to Geneva was canceled and none had any clue on the flight as we enquired through the information center in vain. Finally, one lady informed that we will be rescheduled on another flight which had again the problem of being full. We and many other passengers were somehow adjusted with the seats available. That was a terrible experience.

  15. Shane

    Wow that would have put a major wrench in your travel plans! I think many travelers don’t look far enough into their rights and end up getting taken advantage of. Way to take charge and do your research so you were fairly compensated for the inconvenience.

  16. Ess

    That sounds really frustrating! I like that you guys followed up with your claim despite it being denied the first time. As passengers, we need to understand our rights and hold airlines responsible. Very informative article and thank you for the link to the European Union’s position on passenger rights.

Leave a Comment