Rory Sutherland

Why should I be compensated for a delayed train?


In early 2020 my family and I were due to fly home from visiting a friend in Oman when the plane encountered a technical problem. We returned to departures and were rebooked on to a flight the following day. British Airways then sent us to a very decent hotel, where we were given rooms and a food voucher. The next day we were taxied back to the airport, and flew to London without incident.

What if money went on improving trains instead of pandering to whingers who claim for every minor inconvenience?

I then learned that under EU regulations, this relatively minor inconvenience entitled us to additional compensation of £600 each. We were in business class, but had bought all four tickets with frequent-flyer points. Given this, and since the airline had done all it could, I didn’t really want to claim. Alas, since I am not so flush that I can turn down £2,400 for 20 minutes of online form-filling, I ended up taking the dosh. I still feel bad about it sometimes.

Fast-forward to 2022 and my wife and I are heading home from Newcastle on LNER. Our train was cancelled, so I headed over to the nice Geordie lady at the information desk, who rebooked our seats on a train 63 minutes later, ruefully explaining that we could no longer be seated together. Remembering that I was up north, where such banter is still acceptable, I explained we had been married for 33 years and had nothing left to say to each other in any case.

So after a perfectly jolly exchange, we sat contentedly in Costa Coffee for 45 minutes before boarding the 19.03. For this, we were entitled to a complete refund – around £150. I resolved not to claim, as I thought our treatment had been perfectly fair.

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