Airline passengers can claim EU compensation for delayed connecting flights outside Europe

European Court of Justice rules that delays to onward connections qualify for payments

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 07 June 2018 17:38 BST
A departure board displays a cancelled flights at London Gatwick
A departure board displays a cancelled flights at London Gatwick (AFP/Getty)

Passengers whose onward connections outside Europe are delayed or cancelled can claim EU compensation, according to a landmark ruling.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that a German passenger delayed on a connecting flight in Morocco should qualify for a €400 (£350) payout.

In another blow to airlines, who feel the rules are unfairly slanted in favour of travellers, the ruling allows retrospective claims – in the case of England and Wales, for flights up to six years ago.

Claudia Wegener was due to fly from Berlin with Royal Air Maroc via Casablanca to Agadir. She was delayed at Casablanca and arrived four hours late.

European air passengers’ rights rules stipulate payouts of between €250 and €600, depending on distance, if a flight is three hours or more late arriving at its destination.

But the airline rejected Ms Wegener’s claim, saying the change in aircraft for the connecting flight signalled a separate journey, and as it began outside the EU and was on a non-European airline no compensation was payable.

She appealed to the regional court in Berlin, which referred the case to the ECJ. The judges decided a change of aircraft has no impact on passengers’ right to claim.

The decision is legally binding throughout Europe, and sets a new precedent.

Coby Benson, flight delay solicitor at Bott and Co, said: “This decision is the latest pro-consumer case to come from the European Court of Justice and enhance the rights of passengers.

“This judgment will ensure that passengers on connecting flights will now have the same high level of protection as passengers who chose to fly directly to their destination.”

For British passengers, the ruling is likely to be most relevant for flights via Gulf hubs such as Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, and connections in North America.

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