Consumer Issues

Complaints Against Airlines Pile Up

In the three months since Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano spewed ash that halted air travel over Europe, the Swedish National Board for Consumer Complaints has registered 145 complaints and is expecting more.

Lina Torsner, an administrator at the Board told newspaper Dagens Nyheter, "This is an unusually high number of cases, and new ones are coming in all the time. Just today, eight new complaints came in."

Most of the customers are requesting between 270 and 1,360 US dollars back, but one family requested almost 5,000 dollars.

Some 60 airlines are subject to the complaints, including Lufthansa and Scandinavian Airlines. The discount airline Ryanair, which has received 20 complaints, only compensates customers by giving them tickets.

Since flight traffic has never before been stopped by a natural occurrence of this kind, it is hard for the Board to know how to treat the complaints.

"It is a completely new matter for us and we have never before had such a situation. No one has been affected by this before, and the law can be interpreted differently," says Torsner.

The Board will take up the individual cases for consideration on September 1. Their aim is that customers will not have to wait longer than six months from the date of complaint to receive a decision.