New rules of flight delays by European Court of Justice

New European Court of Justice Decision Makes it Possible for Passengers to Receive Compensation for Connecting Flight Delays

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the right to compensation for delays or flight disruptions applies to connecting flights, even when the delayed flight is operated by another airline. Every passenger affected, including United States travelers, may be eligible.

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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has again published an important decision on the interpretation of European passenger rights. The judgement of the EJC in the case C-502/18 CS and Others v Ceske aerolinie a.s means that the protection that the European law grants its passengers extends to all flights that leave the EU and are booked under the same booking reference, even if the delay was caused on a later connection by another airline. This extends to United States travelers, as well, who are taking flights out of the EU.

The airline operating the disrupted flight should offer affected passengers alternative transport if both flights have been booked together under the same booking reference. In addition, the airline must also pay passengers between $290 to $700 in compensation if the passenger arrives at the final destination more than three hours late when the missed connection is due to a delay on a previous flight. The passenger may also be entitled to compensation if they miss a connection when the passenger is denied boarding or if their first flight has been cancelled.

Information on the case that spurred the decision and the decision itself can be found Case C-502/18

The case was brought by 11 passengers who made flight arrangements with a Czech aircarrier under a single code-sharing reservation. The flight arrangements connected Prague (Czech Republic) to Bangkok (Thailand) via Abu Dhabi(United Arab Emirates). However that connecting flight arrived over 8 hours late. The Czech carrier claimed they weren't responsible since the connecting flight was provided by another air carrier.

The ECJ decided that a flight with one or more connections which is the subject of a single reservation constitutes a whole for the purposes of the right of passengers

What does this mean? According to Christian Nielsen, Chief Legal Officer at AirHelp "We believe this decision to be a real game changer which has a significant impact on air passenger rights throughout Europe. For the first time, an airline may be liable for compensation for the mistakes of another. However, it does make sense from a passenger perspective that the passenger can claim with the airline that sold the passenger the ticket. We definitely expect many airlines to be opposed to this decision, as is usually the case when the rights of their own customers are reinforced."

The EUJ had previously asserted a passengers right to compensation for "long delays of flights applies to connecting flights to third States with stopovers outside the EU".

These decisions appear similar to the rights granted airline passengers for flights within the United States.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

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July 17, 2019

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