CAA Advice To Passengers Hit By Long Delays

Date: 23 October 2012

A judgment today at the European Court means passengers will now be able to claim compensation from airlines for delayed flights in some situations. Following the judgement, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is offering new advice to passengers in the event their flight is delayed.

Today’s Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment in the case of TUI Travel and others v CAA confirms that passengers whose flights arrive more than three hours late may be entitled to compensation for the delay in line with EC Regulation 261/2004, unless extraordinary circumstances, outside their airline’s control, delayed the flight.

The right to compensation for delayed flights is not set out expressly in Regulation EC261/2004, so TUI and others brought the case, which has now clarified the situation. Today’s judgment offers clarity for consumers and the industry.

The CAA has now updated its Passenger Portal – a dedicated passenger advice section of its website - to ensure that people have access to clear, unbiased information about their rights and what they should do if they have a complaint. Access the advice here.

Iain Osborne, CAA Director of Regulatory Policy said, “Every year around 200 million passengers travel on two million flights to and from the UK, with the vast majority experiencing no problems. However, when something does go wrong, there are regulations in place to protect travellers, and the CAA is ready to ensure companies abide by them.

“Today’s judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union offers much needed clarity for passengers, the airline industry and the CAA about when compensation must be paid following delays.”

As the UK’s enforcement body, the CAA provides a free mediation service to any passenger having trouble resolving complaints against airlines or airports. Before contacting the CAA, passengers should contact the airline first, to give them an opportunity to consider their claim.

More information about the CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team.

The European Union is separately reviewing provision of assistance and compensation to passengers under the EC Regulation 261/2004 rules. The CAA looks forward to playing a full part in that review as it progresses.

The CAA’s Passenger Portal can be found at: www.caa.co.uk/passengers.

For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on: 0207 453 6030; press.office@caa.co.uk.

Follow the CAA on @UK_CAA.

Notes to Editors:
1. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) news release on their judgment can be found here: CJEU Decision.
2. Today’s judgment confirms a previous decision by the CJEU about the right to compensation for lengthy delays in the case of Sturgeon v Condor Flugdienst GmbH and Bock and others v Air France (19 November 2009).
3. The High Court in the UK (alongside the German High Court) asked the CJEU for further interpretation of the judgment given in the Sturgeon case following a challenge by several airlines to the CAA’s willingness to enforce claims for compensation for delays.
4. Flight cancellations occur for a variety of reasons, some of which are outside the control of the airline. The right to financial compensation does not apply if the airline can demonstrate that the reason for the cancellation was an extraordinary event and was outside their control. Extraordinary circumstances vary from case to case but could include problems like extreme weather conditions or strikes. Even if there are extraordinary circumstances leading to a cancellation, you are still entitled to care and assistance including food, drinks and hotel accommodation where appropriate.
5. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.