Passengers of non-EU airlines who miss connecting flights outside EU can claim compensation, following Court of Appeal ruling.
The Court of Appeal has ruled in line with the Court of Justice of the European Union’s view that liability for compensation for delay depends on the delay in arriving at the ‘final destination’.
Where more than one flight is taken to reach the final destination, the flights are taken together for the purpose of assessing whether there has been a three-hour or more delay.
Delayed connecting flight compensation
The ruling means passengers on a flight departing from the UK, with a non-EU airline, are entitled to compensation if they are delayed by at least three hours in reaching their final destination, as a result of a missed connection outside Europe.
For example, if you are flying from London to Sydney with a stopover in Singapore, and the Singapore to Sydney portion of your journey is delayed by three or more hours – or cancelled – you’re entitled to claim EU flight-delay compensation.
Airlines must now comply with the law
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) intervened in the joint Court of Appeal cases of Gahan v Emirates and Buckley v Emirates and has stated that this ruling now provides clarity for both passengers and airlines.
Earlier this year the Which? Travel team found that delayed passengers who challenge an airlines’ decision to reject a claim for compensation will have their complaints upheld in more than half of cases.
But, because the CAA has no power to impose its judgments, some still airlines still refused. Emirates was advised to issue compensation in 60% of cases taken to the CAA, but refused to pay up in 74% of those cases.
Passengers are legally entitled to claim for a cancelled flight, denied boarding or a delay of more than three hours when flying from an EU airport, or with an EU airline to an EU airport. However, Emirates, along with American Airlines, Etihad, Singapore and Turkish, didn’t accept the CAA’s interpretation of the law.
The CAA has now written to Emirates and asked the airline to be good to its word and accept the Court of Appeal judgment. The CAA have also written to the other three airlines, American Airlines, Etihad and Singapore Airlines, to ensure they comply with the ruling immediately.
Flight delay and cancellation compensation
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland, said: ‘For airlines that have been sidestepping the law for too long this judgment makes clear that they must play by the rules and pay passengers the compensation that they are owed.
‘This is yet another example of why passengers should receive automatic compensation so that they don’t have to jump through hoops to get what they are entitled to.’
If you booked a flight that either departed from Europe or was with a European airline, you’re protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
If you’re more than three hours late arriving at your destination you could also be entitled to claim flight delay compensation. You can use our free flight delay and cancellation compensation tool to start your claim.
Missed connections are particularly damaging
Following the ruling, CAA’s chief executive, Andrew Haines, said: ‘The Court of Appeal’s ruling could not be clearer and is fantastic news for passengers, who can now demand airlines pay them the compensation they are entitled to when they miss a connecting flight.
‘This ruling sends a clear message to Emirates and the other airlines that have used protracted legal processes to prolong their refusal to give consumers their legal entitlement.
‘Any flight disruption is frustrating but delays that cause passengers to miss a connecting flight have a particularly damaging effect on people’s travel plans.
‘For a family of four, this compensation could be worth as much as €2,400 and we will not hesitate to take further action if airlines fail to comply.’