Thousands of travellers flying away for Christmas could be eligible for compensation for disrupted flights, with law firm, Bott & Co forecasting more delays than last winter.
More than 3,000 flights leaving or arriving in the UK last winter were delayed for more than three hours, according to Civil Aviation Authority flight data.
But with projections that this could be the coldest winter in five years, Bott & Co expects the number of disrupted flights to increase.
Out of 551,109 flights arriving or leaving the UK between November 1, 2015 and February 29 this year, 3,129 were delayed for more than three hours and - potentially making them eligible for a claim for compensation if meeting the other EU Regulation 261/2004 criteria.
Bott & Co legal expert Kevin Clarke said: “Winter weather can create many different issues for passengers hoping to arrive at their destination on time but many people are not aware of their rights if this happens.
“Under European Regulation a passenger is entitled to compensation of up to €600 if their flight is cancelled or delayed by over three hours.
“The only defence available to the airline is that of ‘extraordinary circumstances’. It is a common misconception that bad weather is always an extraordinary circumstance, which would avoid the airlines having to pay compensation.
“The weather argument goes to the crux of this regulation. Airlines will say poor weather is not their fault and there was nothing they could do to prevent it but that is not the point of the law; it is about whether it is inherent, or out of the ordinary.”
The firm says examples of situations caused by bad weather, which allow passengers to claim compensation, include:
• Weather conditions which are not ‘freakish’ or ‘wholly exceptional’
• Bad weather that affected a previous flight
• Lightning striking an aircraft
• Technical problem that prevents an aircraft from operating in bad weather
• Issues with de-icing equipment
Bott & Co claims to have secured more than £25 million in compensation for over 76,000 passengers since establishing this area of law in the UK in 2013.
“As we move toward the Christmas season many passengers will face unwanted delays but we will do all we can to ensure they get their compensation in the new year,” Clarke said.
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