EU laws clearly define compensation for delayed flights, but experience suggests that the paving the way for justice is rather hard labor, causing too many to give up.
Passengers who arrive at their destination with a delay of more than three hours are entitled to compensation up to 600 Euro plus expenses, per person in addition to reimbursement of other costs, except in extraordinary circumstances that the carrier can not affect. Regulations relate to all flights leaving and entering EU, on EU based airline.
Only two percent of passengers sought compensation for delayed or canceled flights for the last 10 years. According to claimflights.co.uk agency, passengers failed to claim about 4 billion euro to which they were entitled. But that does not mean that the money was irretrievably lost.
Two cases appeared before the British court last year; the outcome may affect the future actions of this type. In 2012, James Dawson sued “Thomson Airways” for compensation for eight hour delayed flight from London to Dominican Republic, six years before. Cambridge County Court ruled in his favor and awarded him 975 pounds, plus interest (approximately 1500 pounds). The company, however, hoped to break the judgment and called on the Montreal Convention by which such requests should be stated within two years from the date of flight delay. According to British law, such requests may be submitted within six years. If the appeal is rejected, it is expected that many travelers whose previously rejected claims for compensation were rejected, will be able to submit them again.
The second case is Mr. Ronald Huzar, who sued “Jet2.com” for the flight from 2011. Although the airline arguments the ”objective” failure in this case can’t be treated as a delay, however, the court ruled in favor of Mr. Huzar after a three year battle. It is expected that these cases at least clarify what are “exceptional circumstances” exploited by the airlines. This term usually refers to bad weather or civil unrest. “Monarch” Airline has stated that the flight was delayed 24 hours due to cracked windscreen, but having failed to prove in court that this was a valid reason for delay, the claimant received compensation of 3,200 pounds.
A British man, Martin Wragg successfully ended 18 month long fight with “Ryanair” last year and his torment only showed that passengers with valid reasons have difficulty to exercise their right, even in developed countries. He received 1,700 euro because his family experienced flight delay of three hours and 20 minutes, when returning from Spain two years before. The prosecutor stated that they have suffered a nightmare transporting from one airport to another, with two tired kids in the middle of the night. “Ryanair”, one of Europe’s largest low-cost airlines, rejected the claim for compensation, citing “extraordinary circumstances”. The road to justice led to the British Civil Aviation Authority and eventually ended up in court, which ruled in his favor.
According to data published by the London “Observer”, the appeal about flight delays are almost quadrupled last year. Civil Aviation Authority has received 23,440 claims, and about 6,000 the year before, ruling in favor of passengers in around 40 percent of cases.
Passengers can contact: the companies directly, the national regulator, court or agencies (in the case of successfully resolved complaint, fee goes up to a quarter of the allocated amount). One of the agencies is a ClaimFlights who carried out the research.
“We noticed a consistent and deliberate disregard for passenger rights that could result in paying hundreds of Euros to millions of passengers worldwide”, said Lisa Bartel from ClaimFlights GmbH.