Taking your airline to court

If your airline refuses your claim and you have exhausted all other options, you might choose to take your airline to the small claims court.

Occasionally, if you want to take your complaint with an airline further then you will have no option but to go to court.
If the airline has rejected your complaint and we have been unable to intervene successfully, a court case is the best way to force the issue.

Have you tried all other options?

The small claims court is usually the most appropriate place for airline disputes. But before you resort to this, make sure you have pursued all other options available to you:

  • Call and write to your airline, making sure you have escalated the issue to the highest level (usually the Chief Executive’s office).
  • Use our online complaints form to send us details of the problem so we can investigate.
  • Contact our advice and complaints team on 020 7453 6888 to discuss the situation and whether there might be another way to resolve it.

Are you sure your claim is valid?

Taking your complaint to court is a significant step. It can take time and effort to prepare your argument and the process can be stressful.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do it. If you are issuing a claim at court regarding a delayed or cancelled flight, revisit your rights and be confident you can convincingly argue your claim. In particular, if you are making a claim for compensation check the rules on extraordinary circumstances.

It can be a good idea to seek legal advice at this point. Check your home insurance to see if you have legal cover.

Time limits for taking court action

If you are taking court action for a delayed or cancelled flight, the time limits are 6 years in relation to courts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 5 years in relation to courts in Scotland.

These time limits will also apply to many other types of claims however we would advise that you take independent legal advice, as it can depend on the relevant legislation.

There are some important exceptions to this, if your claim relates to:

  • lost or delayed baggage the legal time limit to take court action is 2 years
  • discrimination on the ground of disability the time limit is 6 months

What to do next

There are a number of places to go for guidance about making a small claim:

If you are taking action for delayed or cancelled flights, European case law allows passengers to choose where in the EU to issue their claim.  This is subject to there being a sufficiently close link in proximity to the material element of their dispute, for example, where the flight departed, where it arrived or where the airline has its head office.  It will be up to the relevant court to decide on the case proceeding as it sees fit.

If you are considering taking court action in another EU country you may wish to consider using the European Small Claims Procedure, you can find guidance on the following links: