Flight delay compensation

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
passenger flight delay compensation

land late? airlines will pay if the delays exceed 3 hours.

The decision of the Supreme Court to confirm that two airlines must pay compensation for delayed flights will cause them some anguish but passengers have had their rights under EU legislation confirmed.

Just about Travel has covered the essence of the case previously so I won’t go into it here.

The Supreme Court judgement reads as follows.

“The Supreme Court has refused applications by Jet2.com and Thomson Airways to appeal the Court of Appeal of England and Wales’ decisions in two cases about the airlines’ liability to pay compensation after travel delays.

The legal issues at stake were (in the Jet 2 appeal) whether an unforeseeable technical problem resulting in a delayed flight amounts to “extraordinary circumstances” for the purposes of Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004; and (in the Thomson appeal) whether the applicable limitation period for bringing a claim for compensation under Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 is 2 years, pursuant to the Montreal Convention, or 6 years, pursuant to the Limitation Act 1980.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear either airline’s appeal and the Court of Appeal judgment in each matter therefore stands.”

In the case of how long back you can claim, (the Thomson case) that is now six years so if you have had a flight delay since 2008, you can apply for compensation.

In some of the press relating to the Jet2 case, you will have read that the judgement relates to England and Wales. People in Scotland and Northern Ireland should not feel that they have been omitted. They should also claim if they feel they have cause because the EC regulation applies to all EU countries.

Courts around he world appear to be adopting similar views. A Kuwaiti Court of Appeals last week also said compensation should be paid to a man delayed on a flight from  Kuwait to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The Abu Dhabi Civil Court of Appeal, in July, also gave a similar ruling when a passenger was delayed for nine hours. However, flight delay compensation if you are travelling on a US airline either into or out of the EU may not be payable as US courts have ruled that the Department of Transportation’s tarriff system would cover compensation. That might only apply if you are a US citizen; as an EU citizen, then it seems EC 261 would apply.

The amount of compensation depends on the legth of time of the delay and how far you were travelling but should range for most people  in between €250 and €600. Airlines will probably add these details to their websites so you can check there.

Some commentators have wondered what the effect of this final ruling might be for the no-frills airlines where, typically, fares are below the compensation that would be payable. Will they be forced out of business for example. It could happen to some smaller ones but I suspect an insurance market will grow that will give them some protection, schedules may alter to allow for extra flight times and airfares will rise to give airlines some cushioning. There may be more maintenance time allowed for planes so that  airlines can double check.

What it will mean is that companies will spring up urging you to contact them on a no-win, no fee basis. Be aware that typically, company of firms of lawyers charge around 25-30% of what they succeed in claiming back for you. It is easy to do it yourself just sending a letter and citing th relevant case.

Neither airline,  or any other EU airline for that matter, is left with an alterative other than to pay-up. Bott & Company, the firm of solicitors who acted for Mr Huzar against Jet2 say that an estimated 2.36 million passengers per year in England and Wales are set to benefit from the Huzar decision, equivalent to approximately £876 million in compensation claims.  The Thomson ruling has opened up an estimated £3.89 billion in historic flight compensation.

No wonder the airlines fought this long and hard.

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