The European Union Court of Justice has ruled in favor of an airline passenger denied compensation after a flight cancelation. The court ruled the airline was responsible for informing the passenger of the cancelation.
Thursday's decision from the EU court states that an air carrier is responsible for notifying a passenger in the event of a flight cancelation at least two weeks in advance. If the notification is less than two weeks, the passenger has the right to claim compensation.
The decision also stipulates that notification of flight cancelation be communicated by the airline directly to a passenger - an airline cannot simply pass the information on to a travel agency where a booking was originally made and consider the notification obligation fulfilled.
The original case was between a Dutch man, Bas Jacob Adriaan Krijgsman, and a Dutch airline called Surinaamse Luchtvaart Maatschappij (SVM). Krijgsman had booked a flight to Surinam with the airline using a travel agency. SVM canceled the flight over a month before Krijgsman was set to depart and forwarded this information to the travel agency. The travel agency only notified Krijgsman 10 days prior to his departure, and he requested compensation under existing EU law stating airlines must provide notice of a cancelation two weeks in advance.
SLM refused to pay, saying it had informed the travel agency more than two weeks in advance. The travel agency argued it was not responsible for scheduling changes and only acted as a broker between the passenger and the airline, and pointed out that it had passed Krijgsman's contact information on to SVM.
The decision means airlines are responsible for directly contacting passengers and must prove that contact was made more than 14 days prior to the original departure. If this is not the case, airlines are responsible for paying compensation.
In recent years, EU legislation regarding passenger rights has tended to be consumer-friendly. A series of new laws passed in 2013 outlined strengthened passengers rights to compensation in the event of transport delays or cancelations.