Extraordinary Circumstances – What Are they?

Posted on March, 27 2015 by Blueway Limited

Airline operators try as much as they possibly can to run all their flights on time, but it may not always be possible, much to the inconvenience of the passengers. It is with regards to these delays that the EU court has created a set of regulations that are intended to make sure no delays occur because of mismanagement or nonchalance by the airliners.

If the flights are delayed or cancelled because of preventable causes, things that could have been avoided if they had only been a little more diligent in their methods, passengers can make a claim for delayed flights. If the claims are made with the airline, they have no choice but to pay up. The payments can be anywhere from 250 EUR to 600 EUR, per ticket, depending on how long the delay lasts and the total distance that the flight was meant to cover.


Ordinary circumstances

Airlines normally will not deny cases of outright delay, which can be caused by anything from insufficient staff, to technical delays, ground staff not passing the flight, connecting flights not arriving on time, mishandling of baggage, or any other such reason. All of these are acceptable reasons to claim for delayed flights.


Extraordinary circumstances

There are, however, other situations in which an airline can deny flight delay claims by law. If the delays were caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances ‘, they are exempt from having to pay any compensation.

External situations, ones that could not be avoided or were not caused by the airline in any way, and ones that in spite of taking every ‘reasonable measure’ still result in delays, are called extraordinary circumstances. According to the release by the National Enforcement Body, an extraordinary circumstance can only be called one when it meets the three criteria – external, unavoidable and unpredictable. They include, but are not restricted to:

  • Extreme weather: The most common reason for flights getting delayed. Extreme weather can include rain, snowfall, hail, heavy winds, volcanic eruptions, capacity restrictions in either the arrival or departure airport and de-icing. There have been instances when the airports have closed or shut down because of bad weather.
  • Bird hits: If a bird strike forces the flight to land immediately or prevents the aircraft from taking off, there is no way to prevent that.
  • Medical reasons: If one of the passengers or crew happens to fall ill or die, it can cause unexpected delays.
  • Manufacturing defects: Manufacturing defects in the flight may be found prior to take off, this, however, is different from ordinary technical issues.
  • Airports causing delays: Air traffic control is responsible for the smooth transit of flights and allocation of runways, if they have issues that result in delays, it is outside the reach of the airline.
  • Terrorism and war: Acts of terrorism or incidents of war that cause a nationwide shutdown.

The reasons mentioned and any others like them cannot be a base to claim for delayed flights as they are extraordinary circumstances.

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