Holiday from hell? Flight delayed? Claim compensation while you can!

15th September 2016

The holiday season is well underway and with the British weather as unpredictable as ever many of us are flocking overseas to seek out that all important summer sun. When things don’t go to plan, and our flight providers get it wrong resulting in delayed and cancelled flights, the EU provides that compensation should be made available to those impacted.

If and when the government pulls the Article 50 trigger and the UK bows out of the European Union a number of rules and regulations implemented by the EU will become defunct unless the government legislates to the contrary. This includes the right to compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004.

The Regulation seeks to protect air travellers that suffer every holidaymakers’ nightmare – the delayed flight. EU Regulation 261/2004 seeks to protect the rights of passengers in the case of cancellations, re-routing, delays and denied boarding.  It was introduced by the EU to help compensate passengers for the loss of time and the inconvenience suffered when experiencing a flight delay or cancellation.

It applies to all passengers (regardless of nationality) whose flight departs from an airport based in the EU or whose flight lands in an EU country and is operated by an EU airline.

EU Regulation 261/2004 entitles the holidaymaker to monetary compensation for delays to their flights of over three hours (or flight cancellations) as long as the cause of the problem does not fall within the Regulations definition of an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ (such as industrial action, adverse weather conditions or delays caused by airport staff). If you consider you may be entitled to compensation the first thing to do is check whether the cause of the delay or cancellation gives rise to a claim. A letter to the airline setting out why you believe you are entitled to compensation must follow and the airline should respond within a reasonable timeframe (30 or so days).

The level of compensation available under the Regulation is modest and is dependant in the length of the delay and the distance of the flight. Approximately £500 is available to those passengers that have suffered over four hours delay to a flight of over 3,500km.

Brexit, when it is implemented, will end British holidaymakers’ entitlement to compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004 (unless the government legislates otherwise). So, if your flight has been delayed or cancelled, don’t delay, get your claim in promptly.

Reports indicate that an estimated £2.7 billion has been made available to UK holidaymakers since 2011 and that the implementation of a financial penalty has led to a decrease in the number of delayed EU flights. Without this potential pecuniary punishment the incentive on airlines to avoid delays and cancellations to their flights to and from the EU will perhaps diminish.

Martyn Gooch, head of our Litigation Department, can advise on all aspects of dispute resolution and can assist you with your claim for compensation under Regulation 261/2004. For further information or a quick chat with Martyn please call 01444 450901.