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European airline passengers entitled to financial compensation for delays rules court

Passengers on flights within the European Union are entitled to financial compensation for flights that are cancelled or delayed for more than three hours according to a ruling this week by the European Court of Justice. However, the announcement is a repeat of a ruling made three years ago in a case that involved Air France.

The most recent ruling has been made in a case against Lufthansa in which passengers are suing the airline because of a delay that lasted for more than 24-hours. A second case involving the International Air Transport Association, TUI Travel, easyJet and British Airways has also been heard.

The ECJ said compensation should be paid to passengers for cancellations and delays that are out of the control of the airline although the court is still to confirm the situations that could cause delays which would be out of an airline’s control.

Raymond Veldkamp of Flight Delayed, a company that aims to help passengers with compensation claims, said he was not hopeful that the recent ruling would mean it will become easier for consumers to get money back for delays. He explained that the large carriers were very good at getting customers to accept free refreshments and vouchers rather than admit that those customers are entitled to far higher levels of compensation.

The European Consumer Organisation said it was important for the legislation to be set in stone and for the European Commission to be strong enough to resist the pressure to dilute the rules that is likely to come from the airline industry.

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