Normally, when you hear something like “there may be $1000’s hiding in your inbox”, it’s natural to believe there’s a scam afoot. In the case of European airline regulations, it’s not. Delayed or cancelled flights which result in passengers landing more than 3-4 hours late often command compensation to the tune of €600 per instance, even for flights years in the past, provided the delay was the airlines fault, and not weather.

Up until this week, the ruling only applied to flights leaving Europe on all airlines, or flights from anywhere to Europe, on European airlines. A landmark case has just changed that, and if you’ve been delayed, or soon find yourself delayed on an onward connecting flight – this could be major news, and put money back in your pocket…

Codeshares Now Apply

Previously, passenger compensation laws applied to passengers who reached their final destination more than 3-4 hours late due to airline fault. On long haul flights, compensation of €600 is due per passenger, regardless of what they paid for the ticket.

In a landmark 2018 ruling against Emirates just last year, the European law was extended to cover knock on delays as a result of missed connections outside the EU, but it left too many grey areas if multiple airlines were involved, rather than just the same one. This left numerous questions like who to chase, and who was ultimately to blame? That’s now changed – and it’s not small change either. The 2018 Emirates ruling opened up millions in passenger compensation, and this absolutely does as well.

Codeshare flights further afield, including those operated by a different airline are now protected, provided the ticket originated Europe on a European airline. This new ruling came to light this week when a group of passengers booked a trip from Prague to Bangkok. The group took a Czech Airlines flight to Abu Dhabi, which landed on time, but an onward Etihad delay to Bangkok resulted in the group reaching their final destination 8 hours late.

The new European Court of Justice ruling commands that even flights which connect to non EU airlines, but were booked as one ticket from the EU must be compensated.

Basically, many travellers find themselves connecting these days, and even if the airline you connect to isn’t European and they screw things up when the European airline didn’t, you’re still eligible for compensation if it was all on one ticket.

Because the ticket was booked as one itinerary, the ruling stated that Czech Airlines must pay the passengers their eligible compensation, and if they (Czech) want to recoup their losses, they’ll need to take it up with Etihad. They partnered on selling the flights, so its only fair that they win and lose together when things go very right, or very wrong.

A Big Win, But Still Not Easy

This is a tremendous win for passengers, who now know exactly who to deal with if they are delayed due to airline fault. Whoever issued the ticket to you for your European Union originating trip is the airline to get in touch with to make your claim.

In this case, Czech sold the ticket to these passengers and therefore the airline must pay up, even though they operated on time and their partner Etihad was the one with the delay. It was one ticket, so it’s covered, even though multiple airlines were involved.

Despite all this, expect airlines to give you a hard time with your claim. File a claim on your own, but if you find yourself stonewalled or denied unfairly, enlisting a firm like AirHelp or Bott & Co can be huge, since they fight the case for you, in exchange for a 25% cut of the recovered cash. A 75% chunk of something is better than 100% of nothing.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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3 Comments

  1. This is getting insane; great news for pax obviously, but all this compo is going to be paid by someone, and ultimately it won’t be the airline.
    That said, I do personally think that the solid protections offered in the EU are a great thing, and wish other governments would implement something similar.

  2. I think that’s great news for passengers.
    Recently I received 600 Euros for an Air France delay in India.
    Maybe the author should have mentioned that compensation is due, even for flights of non-EU airlines flying into or out of Europe.
    The point to remember is that if an airline has landing rights in the EU, they must compensate delayed pax, (so long as such delays are not due to weather, labor disputes or terrorism).

    1. Hey Keith,

      Thanks. I agree it’s great news. Unless something has changed however, the final point is not quite right. The compensation only applies to EU based airlines when flying TO Europe, whereas leaving Europe it applies to everyone. This has long been the case and catches many people out. In fact, I have an article on why you should fly EU airlines to Europe, rather than any airline.

      https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm

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