A million passengers who missed connecting flights starting in the EU to non-EU destinations due to airport delays can claim compensation following a landmark court ruling.
The passengers all missed flights during in the past six years, but can now resubmit them to airlines who must pay up.
The move comes after judges at the Court of Appeal in London decided non-EU as well as EU airlines were duty bound to obey regulation EC261.
EC261 allows passengers to claim $700 compensation if they are delayed on the first leg of their journey and that delay means they miss a later connecting flight that makes them arrive more than three hours late at their destination.
Emirates, which led the fight with American Airlines, Etihad and Singapore Airlines, argued that if the flight was outside the EU, the rule did not apply.
200,000 passengers affected every year
However, the court ruled in favour of the passenger and rejected the Emirates’ case.
The airline has given notice of appeal.
The British Civil Aviation Authority estimates up to 200,000 passengers a year are affected by the ruling.
“The Court of Appeal’s ruling could not be clearer and is fantastic news for passengers, who can now demand airlines pay them the compensation they are entitled to when they miss a connecting flight,” said CAA chief executive Andrew Haines.
“This ruling sends a clear message to Emirates and the other airlines that have used protracted legal processes to prolong their refusal to give consumers their legal entitlement.”
Airlines ready to fight on
Emirates has a huge international hub at Dubai where thousands of passengers switch aircraft for flights between Europe and the Asia Pacific.
“We are disappointed by the ruling in relation to the application of EC261 on our flights from the UK involving a stopover in Dubai, and are currently seeking legal advice on our options,” said an Emirates spokesman.
“Our commitment to excellent customer service will not be compromised and we will continue to always put the safety of our passengers and crew first, going above and beyond to ensure that any disruption caused are kept to a minimum.
“As one of the world’s largest airlines, we have always complied rigorously with all legal requirements and regulations as set by the relevant authorities and these findings today will not impact this commitment.”