Delayed flight compensation :
Complaint about a flight delay

What happens if your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours? do you have any readdress against the airline? thankfully the answer is yes. The right to compensation for delays arose following a European Court of Justice last October which set out rules as to when compensation is payable when a flight is delayed.

Following the case of Sturgeon, your right to compensation is dependant upon the length of the delay and the distance you are travelling to. If the flight delay is over 3 hours, the amount of compensation is fixed according to the distance of your destination. The amounts you can claim are as follows :-

  • €250 if your flight is delayed for 3 hours or more and the distance to your destination is 1,500 km or less, e.g. a journey from London to Spain
  • €400 if your flight is delayed for 3 hours or more and the distance to your destination is more than 1,500 km but less than 3,500km Egypt
  • €600 if your flight is delayed for 3 hours or more and the distance to your destination is more than 3,500 km e.g. a journey to America

Cancelled flight compensation

But what about Cancelled flights? EC Regulation 261/2004, determines the rules for claiming compensation when a flight is cancelled without sufficient notice, the level of compensation is calculated according to the flight destination, and is as follows :-

  • €250 if the flight destination is 930 miles or less
  • €400 if the flight destination is between 930 and 1,860 miles and
  • €600 for flights where the destination is in excess of 1,860 miles

The Airlines defence

If the reason for the delay or cancellation was due to 'extraordinary circumstances' then the airlines do not have to pay the compensation.

The test is under Article 5(3) whereby to determine whether something is extraordinary the burden is on the airline to prove:

  1. The circumstances were ‘extraordinary’, i.e. not normally encountered in the day to day operation of the carrier’s business, and
  2. The extraordinary circumstances were such that they “could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”.

After the European Court of Justice’s decision in Wallentin-Hermann v Alitalia (C-549/07), the threshold is a high one. The ailine must be able to show that :-

“even if it had deployed all its resources in terms of staff or equipment and the financial means at its disposal, it would clearly not have been able – unless it had made intolerable sacrifices in the light of the capacities of its undertaking at the relevant time – to prevent the extraordinary circumstances from leading to the cancellation [and/or delay] of the flight”.

In light of the above, terrorist attacks or extreme weather might be extraordinary but not operational or mechanical faults with an aircraft.

Call our flight compensation helpline NOW on 0845 269 3571

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