Supreme Court rules against Iberia – No Show Policy Struck Down
The Spanish Supreme court today laid down a ruling against Iberia which could have massive wide ranging implications to not only all Spanish airlines but all airlines operating in and around the European Union. The results today are a huge win for the consumer and those of us who like to fly AND get great deals.
The Spanish equivalent of the Consumer Protection Bureau presented a case in court against many of the specific clauses in Iberia’s terms and conditions and contract of carriage. Among many of the clauses that the court has ruled abusive are the ones dealing with Iberia’s ability to modify reservations, especially involving connections, and more specifically, the airline’s no show policy. Typically, as I’m sure you know, when you miss one portion of the journey the other legs are subsequently forfeited.
The court has stated that the absence of a passenger on a specific flight does not increase the airline’s cost, in fact it decreases it, limiting their liability. The airline has charged a specific price for a ticket (and its various segments) and the passenger should have the right to use any or all of that ticket assuming that it does not cost the airline more (which logically it does not).
So… what’s the ruling?
According to Ultima Llamada, the text from the ruling reads as follows:
“La cláusula en cuestión supone un desequilibrio de derechos y obligaciones contrario a la buena fe, puesto que a un consumidor que cumplido con su obligación, que es únicamente el pago del precio, se le priva en todo caso del disfrute de la prestación contratada, que por razones que pueden ser de naturaleza muy diversa ha decidido o se ha visto impedido a disfrutar solo en parte”
For those not proficient in Spanish, it states that the passenger has complied with it’s only obligation, which is the payment of the price charged. Passengers are being deprived of their contracted services by the cancellation of those flights.
Iberia’s ability to change, at any time and for any reason, their terms and conditions, is too broad, and doesn’t fall in line with the EU’s regulations, which apply to only extenuating circumstances.
If I’m interpreting this correctly, the court is literally saying that the passenger has paid $X for a flight, and if the airline decides to cancel a part of their ticket, THEY are the ones not complying with the services as promised, whether or not the passenger decides to take all the flights or not is up to the passengers.
Wide ranging implications
We wrote a big article that went viral last month about United Airlines threatening to take clients to collections for using hidden city ticketing, a process by which you can change your destination and potentially lower the price of said itinerary. Could this new ruling spell problems for United, since they operate flights to Spain and by extension the EU?
If this ruling does get out of Spain and make it to the EU in general, this could be a huge win for consumers like you and me. Often, airlines charge exorbitant amounts for one way tickets, and if this was a way to spend less for the same flight, it could spell a big win for us.
What’s your take?
Should airlines be able to cancel your ticket for a no show? What’s your legal take? Share in the comments below!