Airline passengers lose right to compensation for flight delays

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The High Court has suspended the right for UK passengers to claim cash compensation for flight delays. Passengers stand to lose out as serious delays can disrupt holiday plans significantly, and now they will get no compensation.

The case has been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a decision. No new decision is now expected until early 2012 at the earliest.

Last November the ECJ ruled in favour of compensation being awarded for both cancellations and delays. But the UK high court has referred the decision back to the ECJ.

The ruling in November 2009 was the first to award cash compensation for delays. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been fighting the decision and will defend its case at the next hearing. Other bodies in the UK industry that opposed the decision were BA, easyJet, the International Air Transport Association and tour operator TUI.

The previous UK rules required an airline to provide food, phone calls and, if the flight was delayed overnight, accommodation. The rules changed when the ECJ decided that serious delays caused significant enough disruption to plans that cash compensation was required to rectify the damage.

The suspension of the ruling fortunately does not provide a massive change for passengers. The pre-2009 rules still apply for the duration of the suspension and will continue to be in place until the 2012 hearing when the ECJ makes its new decision.

Many of these issues were exacerbated by the airline disruptions in April this year due to the volcanic ash cloud which caused airlines to pay out huge sums in compensation for cancelled flights.

Should passengers be concerned about what may happen with their holidays they are advised to check their arrangements – especially with regard to rulings outside the UK - with the airlines and their own travel insurance providers.


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