Flight Delay Compensation
Airlines are expected to deliver on their promises. From ensuring the preferred seat that you have made reservations for to adhering to their schedules, airlines should be held accountable if they don’t deliver on even one of the promises. A common problem with most airlines is flight delay. Flyers are stranded at airports, the flights don’t take off, people arrive late by several hours and the whole itinerary can go haywire with such developments. In such cases, the airlines must not only issue a formal apology and try to ensure that the flyers don’t have trouble during the delays but must also compensate for the inconvenience. Even if we were to exclude emergency scenarios when flight delays can have an irreparable impact, delays causing just inconvenience or affecting the schedule of the flyers are legal grounds to claim compensation.
According to EU rule 261/2004, if a flight is delayed by more than three hours or if the flight is cancelled, then the airlines would be legally required to pay anywhere between £100 and £500 as compensation. There are exemptions safeguarding the interests of the airlines and there are exceptional cases where a lot more money has been paid as compensations.
The EU regulation came into force in October 2012 after the European Court of Justice made a landmark ruling that obligates every airline operating under EU regulations to offer fitting compensation to any flyer who has been delayed for more than three hours, for no fault of the flyer but that of the airline. This is regardless of whether the flyers are being informed of delays or not.
Are you eligible for compensation?
Many flyers don’t wish to deal with the airlines and their painstaking processes to file claims. Most airlines will have an approach of immediate rejection. They could cite numerous technicalities and may even just point out to the problems in the filing process of the claims. It is necessary to note that airlines don’t have to be taken to court for claims. Flyers don’t need to hire expert attorneys who would charge a lot of money to file the claims. What you would need is awareness of the eligibility factors and you must have some help with the filing process. The latter can be attended to by our free flight delay reclaiming letters and our free online reclaim tool.
Here are the eligibility factors so you can assess your case:
- The EU rule applies to EU regulated flights and none other. If you are departing from an airport in the European Union or if you are arriving at an airport in the European Union travelling with an EU regulated airline, then the rule applies to that flight. If you are travelling on an airline that is not under EU regulation, then your departure or arrival regardless of the airport would not be covered by the rule. For instance, if you were to travel from Manchester to Miami, you would be covered. You would also be covered on your trip from Miami to Manchester but only if you are flying with EU regulated airlines, think KLM or Virgin. Departure is important but what matters is arrival. The EU rule applies to every country in the Union, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
- You can only make a claim for flight delay compensation if you are delayed for more than three hours. This delay is not calculated pre-flight but post landing. It is not the duration of the flight but the actual time you were supposed to arrive at. Let us presume a scenario wherein an airline fails to ensure timely take off and only takes off four hours after the time of departure. Theoretically, the flight must land four hours after the scheduled time of arrival. But the pilots can manoeuvre the flight to arrive two hours or just less than three hours after the scheduled time of arrival. This scenario will not be applicable for you to claim flight delay compensation.
- No claims or policies pertaining to claims can exist without exemptions. Flight delay compensation is only applicable when the airline is to be blamed. Technical problems or unforeseen problems for the airline are also included. Many airlines have debated that there is a need to factor in unforeseen technical issues, manpower problems and several other industry specific concerns but the courts have consistently rejected such propositions. It is the job of the airlines to manage all technicalities, infrastructural or logistical issues. Unless there are natural events such as extreme weather, political problems such as riots or curfews and any such massive problem that is well beyond the control of the airline, you would be able to make a claim for flight delay compensation.
Old Claims & Disputes
People don’t make claims for flight delay compensation every other day. They must be made only when there is an obvious delay of a flight for more than three hours. Such delays are well documented. However, there will be disputes as the airlines will try to save money. Also, you may not have been aware of such laws and thus you might have missed out on making claims for an old case. You need to make such claims and you need to tackle the disputes.
- First of all, you can make claims for old flight delays but you should restrict it to the last five years. When claims for delays that are six years or ten years old are made, the airlines find something or the other to fight back. Also, you wouldn’t readily remember everything pertaining to that delay, from the exact times to specific announcements. The older a case, the more complicated it is. However, you can always file cases dating back to February 2005.
- In the UK, you cannot make a claim for flight delay compensation if it is six years old. Scotland has mandated that claims must pertain to a period of the recent five years. Most airlines will refuse to pay flight delay compensation for flights dating back five or six years.
- There could be many disputes, mostly propagated by the airline. The airline could argue that it did not cross the three hour window of delay. In one such case, the airline used its touchdown time to prove its point. But the court declared that the time to be taken into consideration should be that of opening the doors after landing and not just wheels down on the tarmac.
How much Flight Delay Compensation can I receive?
The three hour delay is used as the basis of calculating the flight delay compensation. The price of your ticket will not be refunded. The quantum of delay will determine the amount of compensation. The other factor would be distance traveled. Compensations are per person, excluding any child flying for free.
- Flights delayed for more than three hours for a distance of less than 1,500 km would call for a compensation of €250 or £190.
- Flights delayed for more than three hours for a distance of 1,500 km to less than 3,500 km would call for a compensation of €400 or £310.
- Flights delayed for more than three hours within EU for a distance of more than 1,500 km would call for a compensation of €400 or £310.
- Flights delayed for more than three but less than four hours for distances greater than 3,500 km would call for a compensation of €300 or £230.
- Flights delayed for more than four hours for distances greater than 3,500 km would call for a compensation of €600 or £500.
All these scenarios will call for a refund of fare if the flyer chooses not to travel due to delays of more than five hours.