UK court ruling may lead to 6 years of refunds for cancelled returns on missed flights

Three years ago we wrote about the court decision in Huzar vs Jet2.  Jet2’s decision not to pay Mr Huzar his EU compensation has turned out to be one of the most expensive mistakes in recent aviation history, since Mr Huzar won in court.  This set a legal precedent that airlines must pay compensation due to mechanical faults and that these are not ‘out of the control’ of the airline.

Dove vs Iberia will have similar repercussions although, legally, the decision in this case is not binding.  In reality, it is unlikely any other judge would find differently unless Iberia chooses to appeal.

James Dove booked a return flight from Gatwick to Madrid but missed the outbound flight, arriving just a few minutes late at the airport.  Rather than go home, he decided to bite the bullet and buy a one way flight with another airline, presumably easyJet.

Iberia A330 350

As he had missed his outbound flight, Iberia automatically cancelled his return.  He was therefore forced to buy a new return ticket as well.  Mr Dove felt that this was unfair.  After all, the flights had been priced individually on the Iberia website and he could just as easily have booked 2 x one-way flights for the same money.

Iberia refused to refund the money for the return flight, so Mr Dove took the airline to court.  This week, he won.

Iberia may still appeal – apparently it has until next Monday to decide.

If it does not, it will open the floodgates to refund claims dating back six years (five years in Scotland).  If you have lost money since 2011 on the return leg of a flight because you failed to turn up for the outbound – and, for clarity, you can’t get money back for the outbound leg – then you should make a claim in writing to your airline.

What is unclear is what this means for ‘missed leg’ flights.  As all Head for Points readers know, booking a flight from Amsterdam to London to Hong Kong is aggressively cheaper, in premium cabins, than London to Hong Kong.  But what does this ruling mean for anyone who misses the flight in Amsterdam but still wants to turn up in London?

There is more on this story on The Independent website here.  None of the other papers seem to have picked it up yet.  Thanks to Richard for flagging.

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Comments

  1. This is an interesting case with Iberia, I am currently in a strange situation, I had a flight booked from Amsterdam to Tokyo with Qatar with some feeders booked with BA (London to Amsterdam). My Qatar outbound flight got rescheduled as the connection was to short. They offered to fly me from London instead so I could make my onward connections.

    Now the BA feeders I have booked is with a 1 night hotel stay which BA say wont be a problem, but as I need to cancel my outbound and keep my return they want to reprice the fare and change change fees. Surely booking a return and removing the outbound would make sense for the airline to cancel it for free. I am not sure what to do and does this case fit into this situation.

    Thanks for any replies.

    • Alex W says:

      Could you book a RFS back from AMS and just cancel the whole BA holiday?

  2. Gomigo says:

    ‪Rob I just noticed that Iberia Plus has made a quiet change to its combine avios rule. Avios can be transferred only from Avios / BAEC to Iberia Plus and not other way around. Also we cannot undo the transfer once it is completed. Any insights ???‬

    • Genghis says:

      Eh? Where did you notice?

    • the real harry1 says:

      the insight is you are just on the standard Avios transfer page and that’s what you normally see

      the IT is rubbish

      you can still move Avios about freely between the various bits of IAG, but you might need the help of the pushmi pullyu 🙂

      nothing to see, please move on 🙂

  3. I think we have to make a distinction here between ‘two singles’ and ‘a return’. If the pricing genuinely is on a single flight basis (i.e. you can buy the individual sectors at the price displayed) then it should be considered as such. If you need to buy a return to get that price then it’s fair for the airline to link the two together.

    So with this in mind,
    Ryanair – all singles (and they openly don’t cancel return legs if you miss the first)
    BA longhaul – return pricing, so no protected sectors
    ex-EU – normally fully married logic, so no protection
    BA shorthaul – Heathrow – also return pricing
    BA shorthaul – Gatwick – priced as singles
    (Yes I know this seems odd but it’s true, try it on ba.com, you’ll see what I mean!)

    So even if this case does hold, BA would only have to protect you out of Gatwick, not out of Heathrow.