The truth behind Airline Delay Compensation Claims is that airlines reject the vast majority of claims made against them. In fact, 98% of claims are initially rejected by airlines, meaning that a marginal 2% of cases are settled instantaneously. Once in a blue moon airlines might Pay Flight Delay Compensation without court action. However, the chances of that happening are very slim. It is wrong and unjust, but airlines tend to repeatedly dig their heels in when it comes to compensating passengers.
The common excuse that airlines use when trying to get out of paying Airline Compensation is that they say the delay was due to an extraordinary circumstance. In other words, the delay was out of their control, when in actual fact the delay was most likely the airline’s fault. The only possible incidents that would classify as an extraordinary circumstance according to the National Enforcement Bodies (NEB) include unlawful acts (such as terrorism), security, sabotage, war or political instability, bird strikes, airport closure, medical grounds (if a passenger or crew member were to become seriously ill or dies on-board or during the flight) or any unexpected flight safety shortcomings.
Airlines used to be able to win cases in court if they could prove the delay was caused by a mechanical fault or a technical failure. But recently the European Regulation 261/2004 was tightened, meaning that technical failures and mechanical faults cannot be classified as extraordinary circumstances anymore. By 2015, it has been said that only delays caused by air traffic control strikes or natural disasters will be able to be defined as an extraordinary circumstance. Meaning that anything else will be regarded as within the airline’s control.
The laws and the general understanding around what can be classified as a legitimate excuse and what cannot is continuously improving. Rules are becoming stricter and more in favour of passengers. Later this year two test cases will be going through the courts that could potentially open the floodgates to a huge amount of pending claims if the verdicts favour the passengers. In both cases, airlines were defending themselves in court using the Montreal Convention. The Montreal Convention acts as a loophole for airlines to avoid paying Airline Compensation as it states that passengers have to submit their claim within two years of the flight for it to be valid. Airlines ignore the EU Regulation 261/2004 that clearly states that passengers are entitled to Claim for Delayed Flight Compensation dating back as far as six years. The two-year ruling essentially ignores 4 years worth of legitimate claims. Essentially, this is a crossed wire within the British legal system and so once this is fully recognised by the courts (after the hearing of the test cases it will make the process even easier as airlines will not be able to use the Montreal Convention as an excuse anymore.