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How to Claim Compensation for a Delayed or Cancelled Flight?

posted 8 months ago

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of your flight in Europe being cancelled or delayed by more than three hours, you should consider Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. This European regulation provides passengers with rights in the event of a cancelled or delayed flight.

However, in order to maximize your chances of having a successful claim, as you proceed according to the regulation, there are several aspects to be taken into account. This article aims to guide you further in your endeavour and to present some of the practical aspects that might prevent you from getting your rightful compensation.

Romanian Courts have created a somewhat uniform practice when it comes to legal actions concerning compensations awarded in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. Thus, it becomes somewhat predictable whether your claim will be successful or not, by analysing a few key points.

Firstly, you need to make sure that you can provide all the relevant documents that prove the situation you are presenting.

You will need to prove that you booked the flight with a booking confirmation and/or boarding pass. The booking confirmation is almost always mandatory in the event of a delayed flight because it shows the planned hour of departure and arrival. Therefore, in order to show that your flight was delayed by more than three hours, you will need to reference the initial timetable.

However, if you have a boarding pass that has both the time of departure and the time of arrival, it will be sufficient to confirm your delay claim. In the case of a cancelled flight, any proof of booking is sufficient as the planned timetable becomes irrelevant.

Secondly, the most important thing is to provide a proof of delay or cancellation, either in the form of an email or message received from the flight operator, or a notice provided by a reliable source. The source of the proof of delay is very relevant as it has a direct effect on the plausibility of your claim.

Finally, if the flight operator offers an alternative flight to your destination, you should also provide a proof that displays the flight itinerary. That is necessary to show that, despite being offered a rerouting flight, you still arrived at your final destination with a delay greater than 3 hours.

Once you have all the necessary documents, there are several possibilities in regards to obtaining the compensation. The flight operator can agree to pay the compensation after receiving a notice, or you can proceed with the legal action.

In case your case goes to Court, the most common defence formulated by flight operators concerns the existence of extraordinary circumstances. Indeed, according to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, the flight operator can be exempt from paying the compensation if he can prove that the cancellation or the delay was caused by an unpredictable event that could not have been prevented by the airline with all due diligence. The most common extraordinary events range from the aircraft being hit by a bird, to extreme meteorological conditions, to insufficient staff at an airport.

Note that most of the time, the airline’s defence does not meet one of the two criteria established through jurisprudence, in order to qualify a situation as an extraordinary circumstance. The two criteria are, proving the existence of the circumstance and showing the measures taken to minimize or to avoid any inconvenience for the passengers. Thus, usually the airline fails to provide any conclusive proof in regards to the event itself and even more often, the airline remains completely passive when faced with a so called extraordinary circumstance. As such, it is possible to easily prove the airline’s allegations as wrong or false.

Taking into consideration all these aspects, keep in mind that whenever you are entitled to a compensation in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 you should take the necessary steps to obtain it as your chances are can be high. Furthermore, consider that there are companies specialised in obtaining compensations in the name of the passengers, so you can choose this option if you do not want to pursue the legal action yourself.

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