Travel Law

Travel law: your rights to compensation for delayed flights

Following developing case law of the European Court of Justice, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has handed down a new ruling on passenger rights to compensation for delayed flights.

Travel law: your rights to compensation for delayed flights © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

Travel law: your rights to compensation for delayed flights © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

Compensation for delayed flights

The Federal Court of Justice in Germany, Bundesgerichtshof, has published a new judgment on passenger rights to compensation for delayed flights.

The case concerned a flight operated by Iberia S.A. flying from Miami to Düsseldorf via Madrid.

The departure was delayed by 1 hour and 20 minutes and arrived in Madrid late. As a result, the passenger was unable to reach the connecting flight, as it departed from a distant terminal. This meant the airline passenger arrived in Düsseldorf seven and a half hours late.

The claimant claimed €600 for a delayed flight, the airline appealed and the Bundesgerichtshof referred the case to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.

EU law on passenger rights

Under EU law, compensation is foreseen in cases where the departure of a flight is delayed (see Art 6 Regulation (EC) No 261/2004). In this case, the delay of 1h20 was not long enough to engage the rights under EU law.

The Bundesgerichtshof asked the ECJ to clarify whether passengers have a right to compensation where air passengers arrive late at the planned destination.

The question was answered by the ECJ in February 2013 in a separate case entitled Air France/Folkerts (C-11/11). The court ruled that air passengers who arrive at their destination three or more hours late are entitled to compensation ranging from €250 to €600.

In light of the judgement, the BGH withdrew its application for a preliminary ruling. It also rejected the airline’s appeal.

The court stated that the right to compensation for a late arrival also applies to cases where a scheduled connecting flight, which in itself is not delayed, is missed due to the first flight’s delay.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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