Israel Hopes to Close Loophole, Force Airlines to Pay Out for Canceled Flights

New regulation would mandate that flight tickets be issued within 24 hours of payment, not including Saturdays and holidays, ending practice of last minute changes.

David Bachar

A new regulation seeks to obligate airlines to compensate customers when flights are canceled or delayed.

The Transportation Ministry is working to change the Flight Services Law, which addresses compensation for passengers whose flights have been moved up, delayed, canceled or changed.

A recently circulated draft bill aims to end a common airline policy of issuing tickets at the last minute. By doing so, airlines and travel companies can get around the law mandating compensation – travelers who had initially made plans to fly at a given time aren’t eligible because the times changed before they had their tickets in hand.

The regulation would mandate that tickets be issued within 24 hours of payment, not including Saturdays and holidays. In cases where tickets are not delivered on time in keeping with the law, the original flight time for purposes of issuing compensation will be what the passenger was told at the time of purchase. The burden of proof will fall on the service provider.

According to customer complaints, travel companies often don’t hand customers tickets at the time of purchase, but rather a few days before the planned flight. Beyond leaving the passengers facing uncertainty regarding the precise flight time and date, this apparently is an attempt to get around the law mandating compensation for changes.

The original law, legislated in 2012, was based on European regulations.

The ministry draft states that the practice of delayed ticket issuing apparently doesn’t exist in Europe, and calls it an exclusively Israeli practice.