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Just after 5 pm on Saturday, many Nice residents were seeking shelter from a sweltering afternoon sun. Suddenly, there was a startling sound of an airplane followed by a nearby vibration coming from the sky.
A Turkish Airline flight was flying over the city of Nice at an altitude so low it caused immediate panic amongst the population.
“I thought at first it was part of a military flyby for the Liberation ceremonies on Sunday,” one Magnan resident told Monaco Life. “But my apartment started to shake and I was horrified to look out my window and see the belly of an airplane fly over our building. I ran to the balcony with my heart pumping expecting that it would intentionally crash into the Lenval children’s hospital.”
If panic was felt on the ground, onboard the Turkish Airline flight from Istanbul it was chaos. Shirel, a 21-year-old student at a Nice business school told Nice-Matin, “I fly a lot and have never been afraid. This was a flight like any other, until the approach into in Nice. I was in the window seat and everything seemed as usual. But on arrival, the plane took a very different route. Usually we fly over the sea before landing. But I had the impression we were flying over the city centre. At first, I didn’t panic but there were impressive bump and a thud.”
Shirel described looking out to see they were flying just above buildings. “We were really close,” she said. “Nobody understood what was happening and passengers got really scared. With everything that is happening nowadays, you think the worst. I thought our plane had been hijacked.”
The pilot did deliver a message to passengers but it was in Turkish and many people didn’t understand what he was saying. “Once on the runway, I was very relieved like everyone else,” Shirel explained. “I had only one thought: to get off the plane.”
On Sunday evening, the Alpes-Maritimes prefecture confirmed that it is opening an investigation into a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737, reported Nice-Matin.
“The Safety of Civil Aviation Directorate received a report Saturday from the control tower for an abnormal route on this Turkish Airlines flight,” Philippe Castanet told the local daily. “An investigation has therefore been opened to understand the reasons for this flight path.” The prefecture also indicated an internal investigation at Turkish Airlines may be opened against the pilots.
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Airline passengers could be charged £25 (€29) for making a complaint against an airline under new UK aviation rules, replacing a system whereby the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) used to mediate between passenger and airline when the former was not satisfied with dispute resolution.
Due to a scaling back of services, the CAA will now only get involved with those airlines not registered with an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.
Nineteen airlines have so far registered for the scheme. However, one of the services, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), will impose a £25
(€29) charge on the customer if their case is unsuccessful.
British Airways, easyJet Thomson and Thomas Cook are all signed up to the CEDR service.
An easyJet spokesperson told MailOnline: “easyJet, like other airlines, uses a CAA approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) company, who are also the designated company by the Department of Transport to handle air travel complaints, to offer dispute resolution services as an alternative to a court process. easyJet’s current ADR was chosen based on its competence and suitability to provide alternative dispute resolution procedures for us. This is a service easyJet pays a higher fee for than other ADR’s charge.”
A customer can lodge a case with the ADR if they feel their complaint to the airline has not been resolved correctly. Previously, the CAA would mediate between customer and airline in disputes concerning flight delays, cancellations, missing or damaged luggage, and compensation.
The aviation authority has, however, pointed out that their rulings are not legally binding, and should the airlines refuse to pay, the customer often has to pursue their case through the courts.
The new CAA-approved ADR bodies provide passengers with a legally binding decision on their complaint.
The Sunday Times reports there are three other ADR scheme set up. The Retail Ombudsman will be used by Flybe, Ryanair and Air Canada and does not charge customers to use the service. Eurowings and Lufthansa have signed up to Germany company Söp, and this will also not levy a fee on the claimant.