As per EC Regulation 261/2004, the European Union law relating to the rights of air passengers states several rules which every member state of the EU needs to follow. The regulation states that passengers should be offered delayed financial compensation if the flight they are in is overbooked or cancelled. Not only this, the October ruling of Court of Justice of the EU passed an order stating that passengers whose flights arrive at their destination three hours after the scheduled arrival are also eligible for flight delay compensation. This delayed flight compensation may not be given only in the event of extraordinary circumstances, which are beyond the control of the airlines, like bad weather or strikes.
The principal objective of the flight delay compensation ruling is to strengthen the passenger protection rights all over Europe.
Application of the law
Since EC 261 is evidently an European law, it can be applied to Eurozone airspace exclusively. However, citizens of any country in the world can apply for flight delay compensation. It means that to be eligible for a delay compensation, your flight must depart from any European country (you can fly with any airline) or arrive to an EU destination (you must fly only with an EU airline) from Switzerland, Norway or Iceland.
There are a number of ways through which you can claim flight delay compensation from the airline. The easiest way is to claim it directly from the airline company. To do this, you must first communicate with the company’s customer service department.
The other options open to you for claiming compensation include filing a claim through the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Keep in mind, however, that the organisation does not have any right to enforce the EU 261 regulation on the airlines. You could also represent yourself in the Small Claims Court. Remember that in such cases the airlines are generally represented by experienced lawyers. So it is better to take the help of a professional in filing a claim against an airline.
Length of the claim process
The length of delayed flight compensation depends on the legal route taken by you. There is no official time limit within which the airlines are obligated to respond to your claim. In a large number of cases, it is seen that letters related to delayed flight compensation sent to the airlines are wilfully ignored. The process, therefore, could turn out to be a long drawn one. You may have a completely valid claim, but the airline will pull out all stops to fight your claim.
A backlog of claims have been publicly admitted by the CAA and you may have to wait for an inordinately long period of time before you receive a response from the authority. The time taken in such a context is largely dependent on the airline concerned and on that claim. It is frequently seen that the time taken to resolve such claims may take months, and in some cases, drag on for years.
The process can be substantially quickened up if you ask professionals to do the job for you. They issue court proceedings if the airline does not respond within a 30-day period. On an average, you might get your compensation within a time frame of 11 weeks if you take help from professionals.