Claiming flight compensation may become easier

17 February 2011

If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you could now be a step closer to being able to claim compensation again, says a UK judge.

After the furore of last year's ash drama, millions of people were left out of pocket, the High Court allowed some UK airlines to refer any compensation claims to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

This meant anyone wanting to claim would have to go through a lengthy process and wait for the official ECJ ruling before getting any compensation.

But now Her Honour Judge Hallam, at Middlesbrough country court, has ruled that people should not have to wait for the ECJ ruling to proceed with their claims.

Instead, anyone claiming compensation for a delay of more than three hours where 'extraordinary circumstances' do not exist, may be able to proceed with their claim without having to take it to the European Court.

However, this still might take a while as the Air Transport Users' Council (ATC) says it will consult with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and for the time being has no plans to change its advice.

If you're flight is delayed by more than three hours, you may be able to claim compensation.

At the airport
Ask the airline to provide full reasons for the delay and find out if the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances. If the airline can prove extraordinary circumstances exist, then no compensation is payable.

What are extraordinary circumstances?
These are situations beyond the control of the airline, for example: security risks, political instability or severe weather making flying dangerous. Technical problems can be 'extraordinary' but not where the problem should have been picked up by routine maintenance.

What next?
Challenge your airline if you don't agree there were extraordinary circumstances. If you need more assistance, contact the Air Transport Users Council.

If there were no extraordinary circumstances you can still sometimes claim under the Denied Boarding Regulation. You have six years from when your flight was delayed to make a claim, so there is no need to rush to court.


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