A great deal of media attention focused on the Royal Courts of Justice on 11 June this year. Air passengers suffering delays and cancellations due to misbehaving aircrafts shall no longer be left in tears with no remedy. Travellers' rights to compensations of up to €600 per person in cases of delays and cancellations were strengthened.
The Court of Appeal in Huzar v Jet2.com ruled that technical faults grounding aircrafts are events that happen to airlines despite regular maintenance. An observer may see this as an obvious consequence of using machinery of any kind. Hence a road assistance membership card in every drivers wallet. However, airlines have been trying to tell us that these events are mostly extraordinary, and have been refusing to compensate. Not any more. The court confirmed that operating, or in fact, not operating a faulty aircraft is by no means a good excuse for withholding compensation from a poor passenger.
What does this mean?
In theory, there should be less red tape getting in the way of rightful claims. Travellers shall be compensated for delays caused by all technical faults apart from those completely in the hands of god.
When one has been delayed in the past 6 years and the air carrier denied compensation on grounds of extraordinary technical delay, one now has the full legal backing to charge into combat with the airline.
What will actually happen?
Despite the judges making themselves pretty clear, it is now for the airlines' legal departments to update their customer service handbooks and their approach to compensation claims altogether. It would be premature to say that airlines are now going to pay out every reasonable compensation claim. Perhaps not only premature, but a tad too optimistic.
For now, let's settle with knowing that justice is leaning to the side of the consumer once again. Those that suffer as a result of airlines' mishaps, now have that bit more of a chance of being awarded the compensation as set out by EU Law.
It is not over yet
The publicity of this decision will no doubt encourage more people to get what they are rightfully entitled to. Potential compensations amount to tens of millions of pounds every year. Increasing claim volumes shall set alarm bells ringing in airline headquarters across the country and potentially the English Channel.
Consumers have just won a battle but they are still a long way from seeing a draft of a peace treaty.