Compensation claims for flight delays suspendedEuropean Court to review flight delay ruling

24 August 2010

Travellers queueing


Passengers wanting to claim compensation for long flight delays have suffered a setback after a decision by the High Court in London.

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) had ruled in November 2009 that financial compensation could be paid to passengers travelling on EU-based airlines whose flights were delayed for three hours or more.

Before this ruling, known as the Sturgeon case, passengers delayed by the airlines were given food and drink, two free telephone calls or faxes and hotel accommodation if the delay required an overnight stay. The Sturgeon case put passengers whose flight was delayed by more than three hours on a par with those who had flights cancelled. If the delay was not due to extraordinary circumstances, the airline had to pay passengers of between €250 and €600 depending on the distance to be flown.

High Court review

A number of airlines together with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) asked the High Court in London to review the European court's decision.

The High Court has now decided to send the matter back to the European Court for a further hearing.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the airlines considered that the Sturgeon ruling conflicted with earlier judgments including EC261/2004, enacted in the UK as the Denied Boarding Regulation. No claims for compensation due to flight delays will be heard in UK courts until a new judgement is made.

Rochelle Turner, Head of Research for Which? Holiday, said: 'The decision to refer the case back to the European Court is unfortunate for passengers who have experienced long flight delays. We can only hope that the court’s review takes place as soon as possible and recognises the importance of the original decision for passenger’s rights.'

If your flight has been cancelled or delayed, you have rights. Find out more on our consumer rights website.