Airline's Jet Nearly Impounded Over $680 Debt to Customer

4 years after a 22-hour flight delay, traveler still hadn't been reimbursed
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2016 4:40 PM CDT
Airline Nearly Has $10M Jet Impounded Over $680 Debt
Thomas Cook Airlines nearly had a $10 million jet impounded because it failed to pay $680 to an inconvenienced traveler.   (AP)

An airline nearly had one of its jets, worth "tens of millions" of dollars, impounded Friday because it wouldn't pay a customer the $680 it owed her for a delayed flight, NBC News reports. The EU requires airlines to reimburse travelers for delays depending on their length. A German woman's flight from Austria to the Caribbean was delayed 22 hours for mechanical issues, earning her a $680 payout. But four years later, Thomas Cook Airlines still hadn't paid up. So the woman went to a claims company called FlightRight and took the airline to court. On Friday, an official armed with a court order warned Salzburg Airport that Thomas Cook was about to have one of its jets impounded, affecting flights, unless it ponied up the woman's money. The $680 was immediately paid by Condor, a Thomas Cook-affiliated airline.

"We are very sorry that it took this long," a Condor spokesperson says. FlightRight says airlines will sometimes drag their feet when paying out compensation in the hopes travelers will give up, but this was probably an honest mistake. "The claim probably just got lost on somebody's desk," a FlightRight spokesperson says. The regulations behind this "ultimate revenge" exacted by the customer require that passengers be compensated when flights are three hours late or more, notes Protections for travelers aren't as strong in the US, so don't expect this to happen here, adds a post at Conde Nast Traveler, "but we still love the visual of a woman towing a jumbo jet home with her behind her car or spray-painting 'Property of Disgruntled Customer' on the side." (This woman sued an airline after being told to switch seats for a man.)

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