An independent arbitrator in France can help settle reimbursement disputes between customers and airlines out of court and claims a 96% success rate.
It makes its recommendations based on fairness, rather than law, sometimes favouring airlines and sometimes customers.
The Médiation Tourisme et Voyage (MTV) has been in operation since 2012 with the goal of amicably settling disputes between customers and travel and tourism services (airlines, hostels, ticket offices, etc).
Last year, 18,332 requests were made to the mediator, a huge increase on 2019 when just 8,667 requests were made, Le Monde reported.
This is due in no small part to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to a far greater increase in flight cancellations. MTV states that just under 65% of the cases it has reviewed in the past year have been linked to Covid-19.
But it is also due to a 2019 law in France, which states that for disputes of less than €5,000, there should be at least an attempt at amicable conciliation between a customer and a service before the case goes to court.
MTV is not a judge, and customers or services can choose to accept or not the recommendations it makes.
The mediator tends to take the side of the weaker party.
For example, in certain cases between March and May 2020 where customers were trying to claim reimbursement from airlines, MTV considered the airlines to be the weaker party. This is because almost all flights were grounded and many airlines risked bankruptcy.
MTV instead recommended that the airline gave vouchers worth at least 10% more than the value of the ticket. This recommendation was stopped after May 2020 when the European Commission reiterated that compensation by vouchers is only possible with the customer’s agreement.
In other cases, the mediator has favoured customers, even when they lawfully do not have a right to compensation. MTV has intervened on behalf of some travellers who could not make it to the airport, for various reasons, and therefore missed their flight.
Lawfully, the airline has no obligation to reimburse these customers if the flight was maintained. But in some cases, MTV has been able to get vouchers for customers if they have a strong case for missing the flight.
One example is of a customer who was hospitalised and therefore unable to make their flight.
How to make a claim through MTV
You can make a claim through MTV via its website or by sending a letter. More information can be found here. All claims are completely free.
The first point to consider is that you can only request MTV’s aid if you have a dispute with a company that is affiliated with MTV. You can find a full list here. Many major airlines are there, including easyJet, Ryanair, Air France and KLM.
If the airline you booked with is there, then the next step is that you must have first tried to resolve your issue directly with the airline. You will need to provide proof of this to MTV, in the form of an email or a letter. This correspondence must have taken place within the past 12 months.
You must also have received a response from the airline refusing your claim for reimbursement or have proof that you received no response after two months.
If you are in this situation then you can make a claim to MTV, providing proof of your flight with the airline and all other documented proof that supports your claim.
Find the forms for an online or postal complaint here.
You can also make claims against hotels, transport companies or other tourism services.
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