Email not enough, says court

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LOW-COST Spanish airline Vueling must pay €317 compensation to a passenger whose flight was cancelled by email.

On March 24 last year the passenger, a lawyer, booked a flight from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca.

It was due to leave at 10.45am on May 11 and he paid €67.33.

Arriving at Barcelona airport to check in that day, he was told the flight was cancelled and he had already been advised by email.

He was offered another flight at 2.50pm the same day which he refused, as he needed to be in a Palma court by 1pm.

He then had to buy a different ticket costing €34.5.

He tried unsuccessfully to reach an out-of-court agreement with Vueling but the company argued that he knew two weeks beforehand that the departure time was moved to 7am on May 11.

The lawyer decided to sue the company for the cost of the new ticket and €250 compensation due to him under EU directives.

A Barcelona mercantile court decided in Vueling’s favour in June 2011, but this was reversed by a Barcelona high court last week.

Vueling’s email did not comply with EU regulations on cancellations, which obliges an airline offer a client the option of reimbursement, a flight that same day or a ticket for a similar flight on another day.

“It is the passenger, not the airline, who is entitled by the regulations to choose between these three options,” the court ruled.

Vueling only emailed the passenger about the flight changes “for operational reasons” without offering alternatives, the judgment concluded.

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