Claiming compensation for flight delays

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the ‘Huzar vs Jet2’ legal case.  This has brought substantial clarity to the rules covering ‘EC261’ compensation for delayed flights.

As a reminder, you are due the following compensation if your flight from an EU airport on any airline, or to an EU airport on an airline licensed to fly within the EU, is delayed:

Flights under 1,500 km with a delay of 2 hours or more are entitled to €250

Flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km (or any flight over 1,500km within the EU) with a delay of at least 3 hours are entitled to €400

Flights of 3,500 km or more (unless entirely within the EU) and a waiting time of 4 hours are entitled to €600

Where rerouting is offered and results in the passenger arriving within 2, 3 or 4 hours of the scheduled arrival time, depending on distance, the compensation payable is halved

Delays lasting more than 5 hours give passengers the option to withdraw from the flight altogether and be flown back to their original destination

Wikipedia has a long article on EC261 if you want to go into it in more detail.

The Huzar case clarified that airlines are NOT allowed to use ‘mechanical failure’ as an excuse to avoid payment.  The Court of Appeal has now ruled that this does not count as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ which allows an airline to avoid compensation payments.

Flight delay

If you are due compensation, you need to decide whether to pursue the claim yourself or to outsource it to a third party.

What I did not mention when I wrote about the Huzar case, and as a press release last week reminded me, a number of groups have sprung up over the last year or so to help reclaim money you may be due.

Flightright, for example, will handle the process on your behalf in return for a 25% fee.  Given that the compensation figures are not huge (from €250 per person) this is arguably not a bad deal in return for getting the entire process off your shoulders.

euclaim offers a similar service, albeit with a slightly higher fee.  An online search will bring up some other alternatives.

You can also try the DIY approach.  MoneySavingExpert has a guide to making your own claim if you want to go through the process yourself, although that won’t help if the airline refuses to pay and you need to use the Small Claims Court.  I don’t have any personal experience of claiming EC261 compensation, luckily, so I don’t know how drawn out the process could be.

In theory, ‘Huzar vs Jet2’ should mean that more airlines begin to settle claims directly.  It will take a few months to find out if this is actually the case in reality.

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  1. Frankie McPolin says:

    Hi Raffles
    Just a FYI that I received this email this morning about my claim. I already had spoken to a BA customer relations person last Thursday on the phone about this. It looks like BA are going to wait until the Supreme Court has issued its decision. I guess that could take months
    Dear Mr McPolin

    Thank you for your email regarding EU Compensation for your flight BA0289 on 23 May 2014.

    In accordance with Regulation 261/2004, compensation is payable in some instances for delays in arrival of 3 hours or more. However, compensation is not payable if the delay is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

    There are examples of what can constitute “extraordinary circumstances” set out in the Regulation 261/2004, including technical issues. In the regulation technical issues are referred to as “unexpected flight safety shortcomings”. The reason for the delay to your flight was a technical issue of this nature, and therefore, compensation would not be payable in accordance with the regulation.

    The issue of what constitutes a technical fault amounting to an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ was recently considered by the Court of Appeal in the case of Huzar v However, this is being appealed to the Supreme Court. In the circumstances, we are postponing consideration of your claim for compensation until the Supreme Court has issued its decision.

    Thank you once again for contacting us. I do understand that this is not the answer you were hoping for and I’m sorry to disappoint you on this occasion.

    Best regards

    Mr Igalap
    EU Compensation Claims

    • Yep, looks like you need to progress things via the Small Claims route instead now.

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