Flight delay compensation test case

Posted: 23rd October 2017

PassportAirline passengers who suffer long flight delays are entitled to compensation under EU law and, in an important ruling, the Court of Appeal has extended that right to connecting flights from airports anywhere in the world.

The case concerned a family of three who took flights to Australia, via Dubai. Their plane from Manchester arrived just over two hours late in Dubai and they missed their connecting flight.

They sought compensation from the airline after their arrival in Australia was delayed by a total of more than 16 hours.

In upholding their claim under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, a judge rejected the airline’s arguments that the family were not entitled to compensation in respect of the first leg of their journey because the flight had been delayed for less than three hours. The delay to the second leg was merely the consequence of the delay to the first and the family were thus entitled to compensation for the entirety of the delay. Each of the three family members was awarded £505.31.

In rejecting the airline’s challenge to that ruling, the Court noted that the Regulation binds non-EU carriers so long as relevant flights start within the EU. On a true interpretation of the Regulation, what mattered was the delay in the family reaching their final destination. A woman whose journey to Bangkok, using the same airline and again with a connecting flight in Dubai, was delayed by over 13 hours also succeeded in her claim.