Passengers can claim except in “extraordinary circumstances”
In a key judgment this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that passengers whose flights are delayed may be treated the same way as those whose flights are cancelled as regards their right to compensation. EU law already provides that, if their flights are cancelled, passengers may receive fixed compensation amounting to between €250 and €600. However, the court now holds that if passengers reach their final destination three hours or more after the arrival time originally scheduled, they may claim fixed compensation from the airline, unless the delay is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”.
The court said that passengers whose flights are delayed and those whose flights are cancelled “at the very last moment” must be regarded as being in comparable situations, because those passengers suffer similar inconvenience, namely, a loss of time.
Nevertheless, the EU legislature struck a balance between the interests of passengers and those of airlines by stating that such a delay does not entitle passengers to compensation if the carrier can prove that the delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken – in other words, circumstances beyond the actual control of the airline.
[pictured: Stockholm Arlanda Terminal 5; photo Swedavia/Daniel Asplund]