Flights get delayed more often than you think. In fact, it is reported that almost 25 percent of all flights in the UK do not arrive or depart on time. For a flight to be marked as on time, it has to arrive at the destination either early or within 15 minutes from the expected time of arrival. The schedules that are made on flights are not just arbitrary numbers that make it difficult for airlines to keep. In fact, under normal circumstances, any flight can, without any issues meet the time specified quite easily. In spite of it, some flights get delayed to the point of making the experience of travelling a painful one.
Why do delays happen?
There are a long list of reasons that can cause flight delays. The list can be split in two under ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. Ordinary circumstances are the ones that are foreseeable, and avoidable. These ordinary delays can be avoided by a little diligence from the airline operators side; crew delays, delays from the ground staff, technical problems, and other such internal issues are some examples. All of them are the fault of the airlines. Such delays, however are not common and for the most part, airlines do their best to operate on time. European flight delay claims will have to be honoured in these instances.
Extraordinary circumstances are those that are completely external, in fact, there is no real way to avoid these situations. Terrorist strikes, industrial disputes, manufacturing defects, war, and natural calamities like storms, earthquakes, and heavy snowfall are among those that make air travel not only difficult, but also dangerous. Flights are likely to be stopped and postponed during such times.
Till recently, bird strikes were also categorised under extraordinary circumstances and resulting delays did not have to make any European flight delay compensation payouts. In a landmark ruling, Ash v Thomas Cook, a Manchester court ruled that a bird hit was not enough reason for a flight to be delayed. In fact, it is not even an extraordinary circumstance. Bird hits have always been seen as a danger to aeroplanes ever since the early 1900’s. Flight technology has grown a lot since then and every aircraft is tested for its ability to withstand bird hits. Engines, windscreens, and the body of the plane can take bird strikes in a stride. There have been some major accidents and crashes attributed to bird hits in the recent past, the 2009 Hudson river crash, for example, was one such case.
The judge ruled in favour of Mr. Timothy Ash and awarded him and his family a payout amounting to about €420 for five passengers, including him. The ruling, while not legally binding is likely to be taken as a precedence in many such cases that are pending in the courts.