EU passengers can claim compensation for flight delays outside the bloc | News | DW | 31.05.2018
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EU passengers can claim compensation for flight delays outside the bloc

The European Court of Justice has ruled that air passengers can claim compensation even for delays affecting connecting flights outside the European Union. A final decision has yet to be taken on the matter.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg ruled on Thursday that air passengers had a right to compensation under European Union rules even if a delay in a connecting flight occurred outside the bloc and the flight was operated by a non-EU airline.

The ruling, which will inform a final decision to be taken by the regional court in Berlin, boosts EU passengers' rights regarding flight delays, as they previously applied only to flights within the European Union itself.

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What the ruling states

The ECJ said that:

  • EU air passenger rights applied to any flights carried out under a single booking even if there was a scheduled stopover outside the bloc.
  • When "two (or more) flights are booked as a single unit, those flights constitute a whole for the purposes of the right to compensation for passengers."

Why was the ruling handed down? The case was related to a complaint brought by a woman who booked a trip with Royal Air Maroc from the German capital, Berlin, to Agadir in Morocco. The trip included a scheduled stop and change of aircraft in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, where the woman was not permitted to board the connecting flight because her seat had been reallocated. As a result, she arrived at her planned destination on another flight with four hours delay.

Her initial claim for compensation under EU rules was rejected because the second flight had begun and ended outside the European Union and was operated by a non-EU airline. She appealed the decision, and the case was referred to the ECJ for clarification.

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What rights do EU air passengers currently have on delays? If passengers arrive at their destination airport more than three hours late owing, for example, to cancelation or overbooking, they can claim compensation. They are entitled to up to €600 ($710), depending on the flight distance, not the ticket price. Compensation is, however, only awarded if "extraordinary circumstances," such as a strike or bad weather, did not cause the delay.

For flights delayed more than two hours, passengers have a right to food and drink, access to phone calls and emails and accommodation if the delay occurs overnight.

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tj/rt (dpa, AFP)

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