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Extraordinary circumstances for flight cancellations and flight delays

 

Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 protects airline passenger rights and states that travellers are entitled to compensation in the following scenarios:
 

  • A flight delayed by three or more hours
  • A cancelled flight
  • An overbooked flight to which a passenger is denied boarding

 

However, there are certain exceptions under which compensation is not due. These so called extraordinary circumstances imply that airlines cannot always be held accountable, for instance when a situation is beyond their control. These are particular situations, for example adverse weather conditions or strikes, that the airline could not have anticipated. Because of that, carriers can’t be held liable for having to delay or cancel their flight as a consequence of such an event, since these are out of their direct control and influence.

 

If your flight was delayed or cancelled, you are always warranted adequate assistance from the airline. However, if your flight was affected by an extraordinary circumstance, unfortunately, you’re not entitled to compensation. This does not mean that you should not be offered a solution to minimise the problematic ramifications of these incidents. So always contact the airline if you have been left stranded at an airport.

 

Extraordinary circumstances according to EU Regulation EC 261/2004
 

The following situations are considered extraordinary by the European regulation and will excuse the airline from paying compensation:

 

  • Bad weather, for example: thunderstorms, heavy rain, thick fog, snow and high gusts of wind
  • An air sector strike: think along the lines of the country’s air traffic control personnel going on strike; another possibility is the airport’s baggage handlers walking out
  • Political circumstances: terror attacks, political unrest or security risks can all be seen as examples of such situations
  • Natural disasters: a volcanic eruption or a hurricane would qualify as an extraordinary circumstance
  • Bird strike; when there’s a collision between the aircraft and a bird or other foreign object
  • An unruly or ill passenger
  • Other options: delays caused by the airport staff (long queues during security checks)

 

Can I claim compensation even if my flight delay or cancellation was caused by an extraordinary circumstance?

 

In theory, any extraordinary circumstance should exonerate the airline from paying compensation to its passengers. However, airlines overuse this argument very often just to avoid paying out. The burden of proof lies with the airline, therefore you should not give easily if the carrier has already cited an extraordinary circumstance as the reason for your disruption.

 

Arguments that airlines misuse as an extraordinary circumstance

 

Unfortunately, airlines often refer to extraordinary circumstances in order to scare off passengers. However, every situation is different and the decision as to whether or not one is entitled to compensation is not always black and white. Our team of experts is trained to analyse each situation and offer tailor-made advice. Flight-Delayed.co.uk is also able to corroborate the conditions in which a flight was operated, even if the airline has argued that the occurrence of an extraordinary circumstance happened on a previous leg of the aircraft’s itinerary.

 

Some of the most common overuses of the “extraordinary circumstance” argument are: technical and operational issues, bad weather conditions on a previous flight, air traffic control restrictions on previous flights, overbookings and system failures. As mentioned previously, every case is different and sometimes the airlines might be right. However, it is their obligation to prove the occurrence of an extraordinary circumstance.

 

Was your claim already rejected? You can still submit your claim with Flight-Delayed.co.uk. We will review the airlines answer and determine if we can proceed legally or if, in fact, an extraordinary circumstance occurred. We will take over the correspondence with the airline and, if needed, we will initiate legal proceedings. All of this is covered by our 25% win fee that you will only have to pay if we succeed with claiming your compensation. Don’t wait any longer, exercise your rights!

 

 

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