The last month has seen a trio of court judgments which have boosted air passenger rights. Millions of consumers each year are likely to be affected by the three decisions – Rubens v EasyJet, Huzar v Jet2.com and Dawson v Thomson Airways – all of which look at passenger rights when it comes to flight delays and cancellations.
This week business man Adam Rubens of Hertfordshire won his battle against low cost carrier EasyJet. The father of three booked a flight to Tel Aviv, Israel but a change to his travel plans meant he cancelled his ticket later that day.
EasyJet charged Mr Rubens a total of £135 to cancel the flight which had originally cost £306. Not only did the carrier enforce a £60 cancellation fee and a £17 credit card charge, they also retained the £38 baggage fee and £20 seat allocation fee that had been paid at the time of booking.
EasyJet claimed they were due the full fees as per the terms and conditions which Mr Rubens had signed. He however said the additional charges were not legally enforceable because they were not reasonable.
Deputy District Judge Kenneth Arnold heard the case at Watford County Court and ruled against the airline, saying EasyJet’s terms and conditions were ‘unreasonable’ and awarding Mr Rubens a total of £108 (£38 baggage fee, £20 seat allocation fee, £50 legal costs).
It really has been a great month for air passengers. Consumers are becoming more aware of their rights than ever before. I hope this is the start of a new era where airlines stand up and take responsibility for their obligations to their passengers.
This decision comes as further good news for air passengers following on from two landmark judgments at the Court of Appeal last month which clarified when consumers can claim compensation for delayed or cancelled flights under EU Regulation 261/2004.
In the case of Huzar v Jet2.com, judges ruled that airlines are still obliged to pay out compensation when delays are due to technical problems. The airline was claiming that a technical problem should be classed as an extraordinary circumstance and so, under the terms of the regulation, exempt from paying compensation.
The Dawson v Thomson Airways case clarified how long passengers have to bring a claim under Regulation 261: Mr Dawson issued proceedings against the airline for his delayed flight in 2012, just under six years after he got held up flying from Gatwick to Dominican Republic in 2006.
The airline said they did not have to pay compensation because the Montreal Convention, which covers air travel claims such as injury and lost baggage, has a two-year claim limit. However EU Regulation 261, under which Mr Dawson was claiming for his delay, states limitation should be determined by the country in which the claim is made. That means six years in England and Wales.
The Court of Appeal agreed with Mr Dawson that consumers in England and Wales have six years to bring a flight delay compensation claim.
Kevin Clarke, flight delay compensation lawyer at Bott and Co said: “It really has been a great month for air passengers. Consumers are becoming more aware of their rights than ever before. I hope this is the start of a new era where airlines stand up and take responsibility for their obligations to their passengers.”