Is compensation due after the IT collapse at air-traffic control?
Wednesday 11 December 2013
Q. My in-laws' China Eastern flight from Heathrow to Shanghai last Saturday was four hours late due to the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) issue. Can they claim compensation? Steve Wong, Surrey
A. No. The equipment failure that disabled part of the NATS air-traffic control centre led to delays and cancellations across the UK. The reduced capacity affected practically every flight from around 6am.
Heathrow was hit more severely than other airports because it works close to full stretch. More than 200 domestic and European flights were cancelled before the bug was fixed early on Saturday evening.
Your in-laws were among the tens of thousands of travellers who faced long delays. Their China Eastern flight eventually departed at 1am – long after operations normally end at Heathrow.
Under European law, airlines must compensate passengers who arrive at their destination three hours late or more. But the carrier avoids liability if the cause was "extraordinary circumstances, which could not have been avoided". The IT collapse at NATS headquarters at Swanwick in Hampshire was plainly beyond the airlines' control.
What about travel insurance? Some policies provide cash compensation for delays, but these kick in only after a wait of 12 hours. If your in-laws had onward transportation booked, such as a domestic flight or train, they might be able to claim.
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Q&A: What do we know about what happened?
The 10 Best hiking boots
Ljubljana: Capital idea for a spring break
Justice for Britain's former slave colonies? Caribbean leaders to ask the UK for apologies, repatriation and debt cancellation
Malaysia Airlines MH370: the missing aircraft, and what investigators will be looking for
- 1 Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 2 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 3 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Flight Centre Limited: Exceptional opportunity for ...
£23000 - £27000 per annum + Award-Winning Benefits: Flight Centre Limited: Exc...
£25000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Corporate Traveller: Opportunity for a B...
£20000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Corporate Traveller: We're looking for t...