Ever since the ruling concerning flight delay compensation is out, airlines have been finding ways to reject or ignore such claims. Methods range from using creative excuses to outright ignorance of the claim. One of the common explanations given by airlines is that an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ led to the delay. It does not help passengers much because the regulation does not define extraordinary circumstances clearly. However, if you find yourself in such a situation, here is what you need to know to make a successful claim.
‘Extraordinary Circumstance’ is not valid every time
Many airlines tend to use the term as an excuse for delays and simply quote technical problems. However, according to EU Regulation 261/2004, airlines are expected to reimburse or meet compensation claims even in the case of technical faults. An extraordinary circumstance would ideally constitute an unforeseen event such as harsh weather or other uncontrollable occurrences. So make sure that you are aware of the condition while applying for your claim. Use it to strengthen your case.
Another important aspect to remember when you claim delayed flight compensation is that, even if a delay is caused by a genuine ‘extraordinary event”, the concerned airline still has the duty of care towards its passengers. It is clearly mentioned in the regulation. The concerned airline is expected to provide the passenger with meals, accommodation, transportation, refreshments and so on. If your airline has not met these requirements, then your claim is valid even in the case of extraordinary circumstances.
Regulatory bodies and authorities
If your claim is still rejected or ignored by the airline, then the next step is to talk to the concerned regulatory body or any other authority. If you live in the UK, then you must complain to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). However, the CAA handles claims concerned only with particular flights. For other flights, you will have to contact the European Consumer Centre or the specific regulator in the country of departure. Another important point is that these bodies can only provide you with valuable advice, but cannot implement changes or force the airline to meet your demands.
In the unique case that the airline does not even bend to requests from the regulatory body such as the CAA, then the only option left is to go to court. These cases are generally heard at the small claims court, where you can file a complaint online. It is not necessary for you to even go to court. You also have the option of taking your case to either the local county courts in England, Wales and Ireland or the Sheriff’s Court in Scotland.
In England and Wales, the claim needs to be under £10,000, while it should be under £3000 in Scotland and Ireland. The validity of the claim must not be more than 6 years from the date of the delayed flight in England, Wales, and Ireland. For Scotland, it must not be older than 5 years.