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Compensation Claims for Missed Connecting Flights

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European Court of Justice Strengthens Rights of Air Passengers for Missed Connecting Flights

The European Court of Justice in Brussels (ECJ) made a significant judgement on February 26th, 2013 involving a missed flight connection case. According to the ruling, travellers now have the right to receive compensation from the airline if they missed their connecting flight due to a slightly delayed connection. The court held that the right to compensation must be determined according to the length of delay beyond the scheduled time of arrival at the final destination. Previous cases adhered to the assumption that multipart flights (e.g. a feeder flight from Berlin to Frankfurt, then subsequent long distance flight from Frankfurt to New York) must be considered separately as individual routes, regardless of being booked in conjunction.

The Verdict: Airlines Obligated to Payout for Missed Connections.

The court ruling on February 26, 2013 refers to ECJ Case C-11/11 Folkert versus Air France. In detail, the court awarded a German traveller the right to compensation based off Luxembourg legislation on air passenger rights. Mr. and Mrs. Folkert had booked flights with Air France from Germany to Paraguay with connections in Paris and Brazil. With the original flight leaving from Bremen at 6:30, they were scheduled to arrive in Asunción by 23:30; two missed connections later, the couple arrived at their destination 11.5 hours behind schedule. The couple brought forward a 600 EUR claim against Air France, which the airline denied alleging that the right to compensation is only applicable in situations where both the arrival and departure are delayed beyond the regular limits outlined in Article 7(1). In this situation, the delay in Bremen was under 3 hours and therefore not eligible for compensation. In the end, the regulation on compensation assistance for passengers of the European Court granted the Folkert’s their 600 EUR payment. The court ruled that airlines are obliged to make fixed compensation payments which are determined according to the delay at the scheduled arrival time at the final destination, which is understood to be the destination of the last flight taken by the passenger. Yet, in certain circumstances, the compensation may be reduced by as much as 50% when the delay or cancellation was beyond the airline’s control.

Compensation may be Required in the UK for up to Six Years after Flight

For both passengers and consumer advocates, the old rules of compensation didn’t make very much sense. Despite a significant delay caused by connecting flights in a uniform booking, they had no right to claim compensation from the airline. Now, with this recent court decision, opinions have changed. This is good news for all UK passengers who have been affected by these types of delays. While there is no specific time restriction stated within EU Regulation (EC) 261/2004, each member nation has the right to set its own limits for how far back passengers can claim. Within the UK, this time goes as far as 6 years in the past. To see whether or not your past flights are eligible for compensation, click the button below for a free estimation.

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