EasyJet has sought to play down a legal ruling against it over compensation for a flight delayed by bad weather.
The airline had originally denied compensation to Frederique Jager after her flight from Gatwick to Nice last year landed 3 hours 12 minutes behind schedule, citing bad weather.
However, as the weather in both London and Nice was not as described when the flight took place, she pursued the case.
It was later revealed that her flight was delayed due to a knock-on effect caused by bad weather on a different route.
The judge at a county court in Macclesfield ruled that easyJet did not have the right to deny Jager compensation in this instance, and awarded her £210, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Under EU regulations, passengers who are delayed for three hours or more are entitled to between €250 and €600 from their airline, depending on the length of the flight, unless it is proved the wait was due to “extraordinary circumstances”.
While factors such as inclement weather and strikes by airport staff are usually ruled “extraordinary”, or beyond the airline’s control, this week’s court case involving easyJet could force carriers to reconsider thousands of claims.
But a spokeswoman for easyJet said it was not likely to prove significant.
“This ruling is not a binding precedent as it is at county court level, and any cases will continue to be judged on their individual circumstances,” she told the newspaper.
“Delays of this type are extremely rare and easyJet does everything possible to provide information and care for all customers in line with our obligations under EU regulations.”
The Civil Aviation Authority admitted that the issue was “something of a grey area”.
“A delay caused directly by bad weather is generally considered outside an airline’s control and therefore airlines do not have to pay compensation,” a spokesman said.
“However, if an earlier delay is affecting later flights – or causing a knock-on effect – airlines may find it harder to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable measures to avoid disruption.
“If they are unable to do this, passengers may be entitled to compensation as the airline has been unable to prove the delay was unavoidable.”
Since the introduction of EU regulations covering compensation for flight delays, airlines have been accused of using the “extraordinary circumstances” loophole to block legitimate claims.
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