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Norwegian Airlines won't give me compensation for a cancelled flight

Rebecca Smithers
Norwegian Airlines reimbursed our food and taxi expenses but refused compensation. Photograph: TT News Agency/Reuters

I am a member of the Facebook page “Norwegian Airlines Experiences from Hell” citing numerous nightmares people have endured. Our original flight to Gatwick was due to depart Fort Lauderdale at 22.00 on 16 February. As the plane was pushed off from the gantry we were told that it ran over debris, which punctured the tyres. We disembarked and queued for several hours for information and accommodation, eventually giving up and taking a taxi back to our old hotel in Miami.

At 5am the next day we got a text message confirming the cancellation of the flight due to “technical issues” with a replacement flight number. However, the departure time of this changed several times – sent via successive text messages – while we were unable to get through on the helpline. We contacted the airline in March listing our extra expenses and claiming compensation. But the company insisted the disruption was caused by “extraordinary circumstances” which could not have been avoided. Eventually, it reimbursed our food and taxi expenses but refused compensation.

HS-C, Borrowash, Derbyshire

The EU regulation EC261/2004 is the bugbear of the airline industry. It sets out compensation levels payable if a flight to or from an EU country is delayed by more than three hours and, given that it entitles passengers to claim up to €600 (£526) each, airlines will typically do all in their power to duck their responsibilities. They can legally refuse to pay if the delay was caused by an “extraordinary circumstance” beyond their control.

Norwegian still supports its original decision. It says: “We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by the cancellation and subsequent delay of their flight which was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond our control ... in this instance, the claim was not applicable. However, we have reimbursed the additional expenses the customer incurred.” We’ll be adding this to our growing list of questionable excuses.

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