Flight delay? Time to pay, European court tells airline industry

Court ruling makes it easier to claim compensation for a late flight, as airline industry is put under ever more pressure to pay up

Airline Delays

A recent landmark ruling at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) means that passengers delayed by an aircraft technical fault will now be far more likely to receive statutory compensation.

How so? Well, Europe-wide flight delay legislation states that if your flight is delayed by more than three hours – or cancelled – you could be eligible for compensation. This could be more than £400 per person in some cases, unless the reason for the delay is considered to be an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ – in other words, outside the airline’s control.

The key issue has traditionally been precisely what constitutes a circumstance that is outside the airline’s control. Airlines have generally argued that technical faults are outside the control of the airline if they are discovered unexpectedly or spontaneously rather than through routine maintenance.

Now, though, the ECJ has ruled that Dutch carrier KLM must pay out over a ‘spontaneously’ discovered technical fault. This reaffirms a UK Supreme Court verdict from last October, which also ruled that technical faults couldn’t count as an extraordinary circumstance.

So while the travel trials and tribulations of the summer holidays might be over, flight delays are still big news. In fact they have been so at Resolver.co.uk for quite some time – over the course of the summer more than 30 per cent of cases raised via us, meaning tens of thousands of you have been raising claims using our system.

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