Airport delays – can you claim?
Most people are aware that you’re entitled to compensation for delays or cancellations to your flights as a result of EU regulations. Many airlines have disputed such claims on the basis of exceptional circumstances when those delays result from technical failures of their aircraft.
It is defence to such claims that any delay is caused by extraordinary circumstance within the meaning of the relevant regulations. It has long been disputed whether aircraft technical failures are regarded as exceptional circumstances with the airlines trying very hard to show that the type of faults which cause delays were very rare and couldn’t be picked up by routine maintenance and inspections.
There have been many conflicting Court decisions, most of which are not binding on other claims which, until now, caused uncertainty.
The recent Court of Appeal decision
The matter finally came before the Court of Appeal in June 2014. The Court of Appeal decided that for an event to be “out of the ordinary” it must “stem from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned.”
The Court went on to say that where the cause of the technical problem was one “inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned” then it followed that it was also within the control of the airline and not extraordinary. As such, the delayed passengers were entitled to compensation. Unless overturned on appeal, this decision is now binding on the lower Courts. This will no doubt open the way for a large number of claims against airlines who refuse to pay compensation for delays in accordance with the relevant EU regulations.
What to do if you suffer lengthy flight delays
Try to keep a note of the actual length of delay and any reasons given. Also keep evidence of the journey including any booking information and your boarding card as evidence of travel. If you wish to make a claim you should contact the airline as soon as possible after your return. Make sure you provide full details and evidence of your journey.
It is possible that the decision may get overturned if the airline concerned appeal the decision. They have indicated their intention to do so, but whether or not an appeal is actually made remains to be seen.
There’s also another piece of good news. It has just been decided that the time limit for bringing such claims is six years compared to the two year period for some other claims arising out of air travel.
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