New EU261 ruling on connections means you could be due compensation

The rules around EU261 / EC261 compensation for delayed, cancelled or downgraded flights continue to evolve as case law sets new precedents on what is and is not included.

The Court of Appeal has now issued a binding judgement – subject to any final appeal by Emirates – on how compensation must be paid if your connecting flight is delayed.

If you have been denied compensation for a flight delay caused by a missed connection at any point in the last six years, you should now be revisiting your claim.  You may be due up to €600.

The Court of Appeal verdict clarifies the position when:

you are flying FROM an EU airport (inbound flights do not count)

and connecting to a second flight at a non-EU airport

The most common scenario here would be someone travelling on Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways who is required to change planes in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha.

The CAA summary of the verdict is here.  The full version, if you want to plough through it, is here.

Here is my summary of the summary.

The case actually involved two separate flights and two different groups of passengers, which the Court of Appeal chose to hear as one case.

Case 1 involved a woman who flew to Bangkok on Emirates.  Her flight from Manchester to Dubai landed 3 hours late.  She missed her connection to Bangkok and eventually arrived 13 hours late.   Emirates offered €300 compensation based on a 3 hour delay, instead of the higher €600 due for a 4+ hour delay.

Case 2 involved a family flying to Sydney on Emirates.  Their flight from Manchester to Dubai landed 2 hours late.  They missed their connection to Sydney and eventually arrived 16 hours late.  Emirates offered no compensation, on the basis that a 2-hour delay does not qualify.

The Court of Appeal decided that Emirates was wrong to refuse to pay €600 compensation even though the second flights were between two countries outside the EU and were operated by a non-EU airline.

Emirates still has an option of appealing so this may not be the end of the matter, although the decision seems clear cut.  For clarity, your flight needs to be on one ticket for compensation to kick in.  You would not be due anything if you missed a connection on a separate ticket.

Because you have six years to claim EU261 compensation, you may now find that you can successfully claim for a delayed connecting flight as long ago as 2011 even if your previous claim was rejected.

What is not clear, interestingly, is whether this judgement applies in reverse.  If your flight from London to Dubai is 3 hours late but you still make your connecting flight, and arrive at your final destination on time (or less than 3 hours late) can the airline now refuse to compensate you for the original delay?  Logically they probably can, although you could then argue that it is unfair to pay people whose trips ended in Dubai compared to those travelling onwards ….

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  1. This is good news. Got delayed on my honeymoon 5.5 years ago – Cathay Pacific flight was cancelled. Ended up on an Air NZ flight instead, an hour or so later, but I missed my connection from HKG to SGN and didn’t then arrive until the following day.
    Looks like we should have an eligible claim now, just have to track down as many details as I can find…!

  2. Stephen C says:

    What about if an external strike doesn’t affect the territory you fly over? I was delayed on a HEL-LHR flight a couple of years ago and missed my onward domestic connection, last flight of the day so had to overnight in a Heathrow hotel. BA claimed it was due to late arrival of incoming aircraft to HEL as it was late into LHR from a separate flight due to ATC strikes in France. Since the route I was on was unaffected is this external circumstances or within their control due to bad planning?

    • the_real_a says:

      There is already a precedent on this. Any impact to previous flights does not effect your compensation, as this is within the airlines control.

  3. Chrismors says:

    Am I right in thinking this only applies to a through ticket? I’ve used the Air China 1st class Beijing redemption using 75K VA miles, if I have an onward HKG flight on Air China but on a separate ticket I’m assuming I won’t be covered for a missed connection?

  4. Following my earlier posts, where I had an LHR-DOH-SIN booking where the delay was on the second leg, I wasn’t expecting anything to happen.

    Sure enough I got a no from QR – but not for the reason I expected. They stated ‘Although every effort is made to achieve on time departures, there are occasions when flights are delayed / cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control as it unfortunately happened with QR944 Doha to Singapore which was due to aircraft change. Trust you will understand that disruptions of this nature can be unforeseen and beyond our control’.

    I responded that an aircraft swap is not beyond their control, as per EC261/2004, and 40 mins later received an email from the UK CS team approving the claim, requesting my bank details.

    Was expecting a bit more of a battle, and wonder how many people will just accept the first fobbing off – but overall, quite happy. Also happened much quicker than I expected

  5. I was recently flying from San Fran – Dublin on BA (one ticket). The SFO-LON was delayed by 6.5 hours (we were on the plane the entire time) and so we arrived 5.5 hours late to London. BA cancelled my original connecting flight from LON-DUB and placed me on a later one, and I arrived roughly 6 hours late to Dublin.

    My question is (if anyone knows), would I be entitled to compensation for the entire delay (600 euro) or for both the first delay to London and the second cancellation and rebooking (600 + 400 euro)?

    On top of this, thanks to staff working rules, we were only served one meal the entire time we were on the plane (over 17 hours) and my baggage was delayed by two days.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Just once x EUR600

      however, if the replacement LON-DUB flight had then been delayed by more than 3hrs (vs its new scheduled time), you could have got another EUR250

      people work backwards on the claims & file them separately, ie you claim the LON-DUB first, bank it, then claim the SFO-LON

      baggage delayed 2 days = free toiletries & a change of clothes–baggage-essentials–lost-and-damaged-baggage&kmtag=c&ban=||HC|2×2|CTA1|||||||||L2|||||||

      • Thanks, I’ll try this!

        I called about baggage and they said because I was returning to my home, I get nothing. Compensation is only valid for when you’re away apparently.

        • the real harry1 says:

          file a different complaint/ claim using the online form for the poor food service – BA will probably offer you some Avios as ‘service recovery’ – on a flight that long I’d be looking to get (say) up to 5000 Avios each, you don’t need to accept their first offer and they won’t withdraw it if you say it’s not really enough considering the 17 hrs

    • 1 ticket reference (irrespective of the number of flights) = 1 payment

      • the real harry1 says:

        you get a new ticket in many cases, so you’ll have 2 references

        there are a few people on the FT compo thread who have managed it

        • the real harry1 says:

          OK istr it was slightly different but a scan through the FT thread would easily clarify, it was in the last couple of months

          Flight 1 gets cancelled @ short notice, pax gets re-routed to Flight 2 (which takes off several hours later)
          Flight 2 is delayed by several hours

          pax gets compensation for both Flight 1 (cancellation) and Flight 2 (delay)

  6. OT does anyone know if there is a way to find out why your flight was diverted. Flight got diverted last year from LGW to STN and got told it was for ‘runway closure’ despite the fact that other flights still managed to land at LGW on the same day.

  7. Re last paragraph in the original article, I think it does makes sense that if you still make the connection you don’t get compensation.
    One has after all completed the journey within the time allowance (all one has missed is a few hours in the lounge at the connecting airport).
    But those completing their journey have arrived at their final destination beyond the time allowance and so do get compensation.

    I had a flight at FRA land 2:02 late but I still made the connection.
    I missed out on a glass or two of champagne, but decided a claim was not justified.
    (and it would have been a waste of time because it was Air Berlin not long before 15th August)

    • Depends on the length of delay and how much time you may of planned at your connection to do things, meet people, buy gifts, use the internet, make phone calls, exercise, shower, etc, etc.