Your Flight Is Delayed- Are You Entitled to Compensation?

In 2004 the EU introduced new regulations which stated that any airlines which are either departing from an EU airport or are an EU member state airline flying into an EU airport must pay compensation to passengers for flights which are either heavily delayed or cancelled.

This means that if your flight is delayed by more than three hours or you miss a connecting flight and arrive at your final destination more than three hours later than scheduled you are entitled to claim compensation of between 250 – 600 Euros, depending on the length of the flight and the delay.

Passengers have had the right to claim compensation since 2005 so why is this now in the news? Because under the Regulations the airlines have been able to put forward a defence that the delay was due to an “extraordinary circumstance” . This can be a whole range of things, from terrorism and industrial action to ‘technical problems’.

The Court of Appeal in a recent case ( v Huzar) had to consider whether ‘technical problems’ were indeed an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and would be a defence against a compensation claim.

The Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision which held that it was not a defence. The ruling was that “difficult technical problems arise as a matter of course in the normal exercise of the carrier’s activity”. It would appear that any technical fault must be unpredictable, unavoidable and external which leaves this open to debate.

Julian Ireland, a Commercial Litigation Solicitor at leading regional law firm Pictons says: “The above ruling has a significant impact on the airlines, who may be required to pay out hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds to delayed passengers.

“ has sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court as they clearly appreciate the significance of the ruling and it may take some time before a final ruling is made. In the meantime the airlines will undoubtedly try and put off any compensation payments by arguing that they are waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision.

“If you don’t want to wait for the ruling your only course of action will be to sue the airline. Of course, if the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeal decision then the inevitable result will be that airlines are likely to increase their prices to ensure that they have sufficient funds to pay compensation.”