Airlines could be forced to pay passengers compensation if their flights are delayed for three hours or more, following an EU ruling.
The European Court of Justice has upheld a previous decision which will entitle travellers to a cash pay-out by airlines if their flight is delayed, unless the delay was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances.’ The ruling means that airlines could shed out thousands of pounds to peeved passengers who have been delayed by over three hours.
Under current EU regulations, passengers who fly to or from an EU, Swiss, Norwegian or Icelandic airport are entitled to meals, refreshments, free telephone calls or emails if their flight has been delayed by three hours or more. Travellers on these flights are also entitled to cash compensation of between €250 (£204) and €600(£490) since November 2009.
However, since August 2010 a legal challenge by British Airways, easyJet and other airlines has seen all claims in the UK put on hold. The challenge appears unlikely to succeed as today’s ruling confirmed that mechanical problems do not constitute ‘extraordinary circumstances.’ This could force carriers to reconsider hundreds of existing claims.
A spokesman for easyJet said: “While we are disappointed at the outcome we welcome the judgment which provides much-needed clarity on this matter.” The monetary compensation can only be applied if delays are shown to be the airline’s fault. Should the airline successfully argue that this is not the case, it might not have to pay compensation.
The definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ is a hot topic for airlines as it is commonly used to cover delays such as those caused by bad weather, fog or strikes, as well as political turbulence or natural incidences such as the ash cloud. It could be advisable to take out comprehensive travel insurance which may cover you for flight delays.
Date Created: 24/10/2012