What is a meal? Is it negotiable?
An airline is obliged to offer assistance in the form of refreshments
and meals after 2 hours when the flight is less than 1500km.
What does this mean and how is it delivered?
An airline could
bring around a drinks trolley and sandwiches or it could
give you each a voucher.
The regulation doesn’t go into detail as to the extent
of the fare that should be given save that it should be commensurate
with the delay. Whether the offer of meals and refreshments
extends to pre-packaged sandwiches and bottled water or to
meal vouchers at airport eateries will depend upon the airline.
Perhaps the type of cuisine offered is a reflection of how
much the airline appreciates you as a customer.
We would be interested in your feedback to Flightmole.com
if the airline does not volunteer assistance which is clearly
their responsibility to provide?
Are you in a position say after a 5 Hour delay to decide
that you will visit the Airport's best eating establishment
a meal for you and your family. If you are in Paris or Rome why
not order a bottle of (say not too-expensive wine).
Could you then present the bill to the airline for reimbursement?
This is clearly a case of an airline offering the minimum that
they think passengers will accept compared with what a passenger
might expect as reasonable and ordinary.
What if a passenger has special dietary or medical needs? A diabetic
for example or a confirmed glutton?
What is a meal-expand your horizons and possibly your waistband
As you can see the regulation only relates the type of meal or
refreshment to the length of the delay. Therefore the inference
if any which can be gleaned is that this relates to the quantity
rather than the quality of assistance available.
As is often the case where there is a void in interpretation
this invites one side to attempt to fill the void with their "best
interpretation" of the lack of detail.
Yet why should this be a game only one side is able to play?
An airline will naturally attempt to offer the minimum that it
has to. However, as in any negotiation, you can provide a counter-offer.
Therefore if you encounter a 5 Hour delay why not say to the
airline that you intend to take a meal at the airport restaurant
and say that you will limit yourselves to the fixed price menu
of say £15 per person. Your family of 4 would like payment
for the £60.
Is this an unreasonable demand? Is it any less reasonable than
being offered a pre-packed sandwich and bottled water?
Just because a Petrol Station in the UK pronounces that a repacked
sandwich and a packet of crisps as a "meal deal" don’t
you yet secretly smile at the audacity of the claim of this being
a proper “meal”.
In some respects who takes the initiative in making the first
move may have the slight advantage. If an airline makes no move
to offer any form of nutritional assistance by approaching the
airline first with your offer of the airport meal may have greater
force. The airline then would seek to counter-offer with a £5
voucher each-yet this will not cover the cost of even the fixed
price meal at the restaurant.
Incidentally if you travel through France or Italy do petrol
stations dare to describe pre-packaged sandwiches and cans of
tango as a meal.
Why an airline is likely to prefer to be invisible when there
is a delay.
Perhaps a deficiency within the regulation is to impose a duty
upon the airline to have a responsible representative able to
field questions and requests from the passengers.
Say there is a delay- the airline should not just be under a
duty to inform the passengers of their rights but also that at
least one representative from the airline should be responsible
for dealing with the assistance to the passengers.
That single person would be responsible for fielding these types
of questions and requests from the passengers and also would
distribute and organize assistance.
A single responsible person would then need to be empowered and
responsible to distribute assistance but also be responsible
on behalf of the airline for the decisions made.
We can see that many airlines would prefer to shun such visibility.
The airline would then be too accessible to the passenger cadre
in real time to enforce their rights.
Taking the restaurant meal example above a single representative
would be exposed to negotiate the individual demands of the passengers.
The airline would be accessible to this negotiation.
If the airline remains anonymous it can seek to impose its own "perceived
wisdom" of what is "reasonable" in any given circumstance.
How do you deal with this situation of the invisible airline?
You may need to take the initiative and take the initiative in
Somebody at the airline is responsible and is empowered with
A passenger needs to find that person and make that person visible
and take the initiative.
Therefore returning to our 5 hour delay example you need to find
the responsible airline person and state this is your view of
what is a meal and refreshments in relation to the delay you
You regard the compensation as £60 (4 meals at £15).
Will they pay that in advance so you can go to the restaurant
with your family?
Perhaps the airline offers 4 x £5 meal vouchers.
You could insist upon the reasonableness of your position.
You could compromise
You could accept the £20 worth of vouchers but reserve
the right to claim form the airline the total meal cost.
Next time you are delayed try this and tell us how you fared.
After all it is one way to pass the time whilst you are delayed.
If you don’t ask you won’t get. What may inhibit
the airline is the mini precedent value of your negotiation being
successful and worse still visible to hungry passengers. If there
is a full flight of 150 passengers this may cost the airline £1500
plus if your fellow passengers ride in your slipstream.
Heck you could be the most popular person in the aircraft when
it does eventually take off after the delay
GO TO THE FLIGHTMOLE.COM FORUM
TELL US YOUR AIRLINE BROKE BREAD WITH YOU?
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A MEAL?