Could you get compensation on EU flight delays?
Written by Carl Turner on January 25, 2015.
If you travel extensively for both business and pleasure, you are likely to have travelled to or through the EU and have possibly experienced frustrating flight delays at some time or other. There are few things more frustrating than hanging about in airport lounges. Did you know that you may be eligible for compensation of up to £470 on delays, even ones suffered in the past?
The European Court of Justice issued a ruling in October 2012 to compensate travellers for flight delays of three hours or more. If you were not previously aware of this you can backdate claims as far as 2005, although the statute of limitations in individual countries may make this more difficult for older delays.
For compensation to be payable it is imperative that the delay was the fault of the airline. That means things like airline staff shortages, a failure on the part of the airline to provide relevant paperwork or technical problems could all support a case but inclement weather, striking air traffic controllers or a terrorist threat would not.
The longer your delay and the further the distance travelled, the more the compensation mounts up. If you want to check distances, this website is a useful tool. Journeys under 1,500km (London to Paris for example) delayed for three hours will pay out £200, whereas if you experience a delay of over four hours on an intercontinental flight such as London to New York you could receive £470 (the maximum). The amounts payable are per person and do not bear any relation to how much you paid for your flight in the first place. This means it is possible to receive more in compensation than the amount you paid for your ticket, a technicality which is particularly galling for the airlines!
The three hour delay relates to arrival time at destination regardless of departure time so even if you were delayed leaving an airport, if you arrive less than three hours after the scheduled arrival time, compensation is not due. A delay of 5 hours or more on any flight automatically qualifies the ticketholder to a full refund, whatever the cause of the delay.
If you think you may be eligible, it is worth having a look at the European Commission’s website for clarification on particular circumstances in which compensation is payable. Nothing can give you back those wasted hours but a few hundred pounds could sweeten the blow!