The European Court of Justice struck a big blow for passenger rights last week as it passed down a landmark ruling against KLM airlines. A move which will now ensure that travelers delayed by technical issues on flights in the EU are correctly compensated in accordance with EU regulation 261 which governs the relationship between commercial airlines and their customers.
Until last week’s ruling, which revolved around a case brought by a passenger who suffered a 29 hour delay on a KLM flight from Quito in Ecuador to Amsterdam in 2009, many airlines were dragging their feet on making compensation payments to passengers who had lawfully made claims in accordance with their existing rights after their flights were delayed by technical issues.
Now however the airlines can only refuse compensation when a flight is delayed by three hours or more if it has been caused by bad weather, air traffic control or strike action. Which means that recalcitrant flight operators such as Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Jet2 will be obliged to fork out for existing claims or face enforcement action in the UK from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Passengers whose flights are delayed by more than three hours by technical issues are entitled to up to €600 in compensation, depending on circumstances. So it certainly pays to know your rights before heading to the airport just in case you encounter any problems or issues.
The EU’s website offers more detailed information about passenger rights and compensation claims.