The European Court of Justice has ruled that passengers are entitled to claim compensation when delayed on connecting flights outside the EU.
The ruling means that passengers who are denied boarding, delayed more than three hours or have a cancelled flight on non-EU connecting flights are eligible for compensation if the cause is not “extraordinary circumstances”.
Coby Benson, flight delay compensation solicitor at specialist law firm Bott and Co, described the development as a “milestone ruling”.
Benson said: “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.”
The decision will be legally binding throughout Europe and will hold precedent in UK cases.
The change emerges from a case involving a passenger delayed for four hours while en-route in Casablanca when travelling with Royal Air Maroc from Berlin to Agadir.
The airline declined a compensation claim for the delay on the grounds that Morocco is outside the EU and a change in aircraft for the connecting flight signalled a separate journey.
However, the judgment handed down from the ECJ notes that a change of aircraft had no impact whatsoever on passengers’ right to claim.
Passengers in similar situations will be awarded compensation for the “irreversible loss of time”, and the matter of delayed connecting flights has been clarified.
The decision is legally binding throughout Europe, and sets a new precedent, according to Bott & Co.
Benson 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.”
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