Technical failures have tended to be a rather grey area when it comes to Flight Compensation (the same applies to mechanical faults). Airlines make countless excuses to justify themselves and blame practically all delays on extraordinary circumstances. An extraordinary circumstance is something out of the airline’s control. It is a way for airlines to push the blame around so that they do not have to pay Flight Delays Compensation.
EU Regulation 261/2004 clearly states that Delay Compensation should be paid if the reason for the delay was within the airline’s control. Maintenance checks and regular aircraft servicing can often prevent technical failures and mechanical faults. But even when airlines discover a fault they often postpone the repair work if it could result in high costs for them. For example, in October 2012 a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heath row to St Lucia was delayed by 24 hours. The reason for the delay was because the Loop B fire detector has failed the previous day during a flight to Orlando, and to make matters worse the Loop A fire detector had also failed three days prior to this. This meant the Virgin Atlantic aircraft had no operating fire detectors in the second engine, resulting in the aircraft being unsafe to fly. Virgin knew about the faulty Loop A fire detector for 3 days but chose to ignore it. If the Loop A fire detector had been replaced at the time of the incident then it would have significantly lowered the chance of a delay occurring. Virgin even admitted that the 24-hour delay was due to the fact that a replacement part had to be sent from Britain.
This case proves that airlines are very sneaky when it comes to aircraft maintenance and it also shows the drastic measures that airlines take in order to replace parts. Airlines resolve problems in the cheapest way possible, rather than the quickest way possible (even if the decision causes a 24-hour delay). Airlines should have contingency plans in place in order to cope when technical failures occur such as access to replacement parts overseas. The idea of sending parts from Britain to an aircraft half way across the world is hardly the quickest way of resolving the problem.
Mr Offer, a passenger who was on board the heavily delayed flight from Heath row to St Lucia made a Flight Delay Claim against Virgin Atlantic on behalf of himself and one other passenger. His claim was initially rejected by the airline, which is almost guaranteed to happen. Airlines very rarely payout Delay Compensation without court action, which is why if your claim is rejected at first always pursue it, don’t be put off by taking legal action. In the end Mr Offer received a cheque for €1200 worth of Flight Compensation. This goes to show that it really is not that difficult to win Flight Delay Refunds Claim or receive compensation for delays caused by technical failures.