Flight delays are one of the most frustrating elements of either setting off on holiday or when you are about to head home after a trip. EU law recognises these frustrations and has given travellers certain rights during their travels. The law is designed so that airlines inform their customers about cancellations and, under certain circumstances, allow their customers to claim compensation should delays stretch into hours.
The applicable EU law is EU Regulation 261/2004/EC. The first thing to consider is the conditions regarding eligibility. To be eligible to claim compensation, a passenger must meet certain criteria:-
- Must have flown on a flight departing from an EU airport or airline,
- Flown on a flight arriving at an EU airport if the airline is based in the EU,
- There must be a confirmed reservation on the flight,
- The passenger must have checked in at the correct time, or no later than 45 minutes before the published departure time,
- The passenger must not have been travelling for free, or on reduced fares not available to the public (frequent flyer passengers will however qualify)
The level of compensation you may be entitled to receive will vary according to the length of your flight, with greater distances attracting larger financial awards. Delays can be separated into the following categories:-
- Short-haul flights under 1500km will result in compensation of €250 for delays over 3 hours,
- Medium haul flights between 1500km and 3500km equals €400 for delays over 3 hours, and
- Long-haul flights over 3500km, for delays of 3-4 hours there will be compensation of €300, for delays over 4 hours compensation is valued at €600
Airlines do have defences against claims made against them. A defence has two elements and these are that a) the cancellation or delay must be caused by extraordinary circumstances; and 2) the airline must have been able to avoid the delay or cancellation by taking all reasonable measures. The definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ mostly excludes routine technical problems, the most common reason for a delayed flight. The argument would be that these Regulations give the consumer greater power in enforcing their rights.
If you are eligible for compensation you must make your claim against the airline you travelled with. If you are not satisfied with their response the matter can be reported to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Jackson Boyd has extensive experience making compensation claims for delayed flights. If you would like to discuss a claim further, call us today and we can discuss your eligibility for a claim and the likely award you may be entitled to receive.