If you’re flying in or out of the UK this winter there is a one in five chance of you experiencing a flight delay.
Bott and Co has estimated the number of passengers likely to be delayed this winter is in their thousands based on passenger statistics from the previous year.
- Thousands of passengers could be eligible for flight delay compensation for disrupted flights this winter.
- 3,129 of all flights leaving or arriving in the UK last winter were delayed for more than three hours.
- Millions of pounds potentially claimable for delays over three hours this winter.
- Bott & Co predict passenger delays just as high this winter.
- There is a one in five chance of being delayed this winter, with 21% of flights last Nov to Feb delayed between 15 minutes and three hours
A total of 551,109 flights arrived or left the UK between 1st November 2015 and 29th February 2016 according to CAA flight data.
Figures also show that 0.57% (3,129) of flights were delayed more than three hours and therefore potentially eligible for a claim for compensation if meeting the other EU Regulation 261/2004 criteria.
Furthermore, 21% of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and three hours. These passengers although not entitled to monetary compensation, may be entitled to receive appropriate care and assistance from the airline throughout the delay as outlined under EU Regulation 261.
Warning: Winter Weather
Winter weather can create many different issues for passengers hoping to arrive at their destination on time.
Under European Regulation a passenger is entitled up to €600 in compensation if their flight is cancelled or delayed by over 3 hours. The only defence available to the airline is that of ‘extraordinary circumstances’. It is a common misconception that bad weather is always an extraordinary circumstance, which would avoid the airlines having to pay compensation.
Airlines will say poor weather is not their fault… but that is not the point of the law; it is about whether it is inherent, or out of the ordinary.
Coby Benson, Bott and Co Solicitor says: “The weather argument goes to the crux of this regulation. Airlines will say poor weather is not their fault and there was nothing they could do to prevent it but that is not the point of the law; it is about whether it is inherent, or out of the ordinary.”
There are numerous situations caused by bad weather, which still allow a passenger to claim compensation. Examples of this include:
- Weather conditions which are not ‘freakish’ or ‘wholly exceptional’
- Bad weather that affected a previous flight
- Lightning striking a plane
- Technical problem that prevents an aircraft from operating in bad weather
- Issues with de-icing equipment
Bott and Co have previously successfully recovered compensation for passengers in all of the above situations.
“I was very disappointed in British Airways, I thought they handled it dreadfully. They told me that under EU Legislation they didn’t have to pay me compensation.”
The reason for the delay was that during final safety checks, a hydraulic leak associated with the anti-skid system was found. The airline originally defended the claim saying that it constitutes an extraordinary circumstance and could not have been avoided and was therefore outside of their control.
Under EU Regulation 261/2004 a technical issue does not constitute an extraordinary circumstance and therefore Bott and Co recovered £680 for the couple, which they were entitled to by law.
Coby Benson continues: “If an airport is closed then that is a different matter, but de-icing aircrafts and all the little things which are necessary to fly during winter are ordinary. Airlines know that when they sell flights to passengers throughout the winter months, in particular December, they may be faced with these issues, and the regulation says they have to prepare for them or compensate passengers.
“As we move into winter we have to expect bad weather. It is inherent; something airlines deal with as a matter of course and provisions have to be put in place to deal with this or compensation must be paid. Airlines cannot use the snow as an excuse for delays caused by other circumstances such as improper planning in an attempt to get out of paying compensation to passengers.”
Bott and Co have also successfully recovered compensation for Tim after his flight from Manchester to Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport was delayed on 30th January 2015.
“The previous day Manchester Airport had been snow bound, when we arrived the next day flights were operating normally. Thomas Cook made provision for their aircraft being in the wrong place by hiring in another for our flight, so the snow was clearly not an issue.
However, the airline had not ensured that the crew were available to fly the aircraft which in turn caused our delay. They wouldn’t compensate us directly as they said the delay was due to the snow and the CAA backed Thomas Cook’s decision when approached hence why I came to Bott and Co.”
Bott and Co have an appeal case Papworth v Monarch on 14th December 2016 which stands to affect many passengers whose flights have been delayed in relation to poor weather on a previous rotation.
The case specifically relates to Rachel Papworth’s flight delay back in 2014 when travelling from Corfu to London. Passengers were told the delay was due to fog/low cloud on the plane’s inward journey, causing it to divert to Brindisi. No other flights from the airport were affected.
It’s an important appeal as we are working hard to clarify these points of the law to ensure passengers are compensated correctly.
Airlines Must Be Prepared!
Ski season is at its peak around Christmas time into the New Year months of January and February when passengers will travel to specific destinations in search of snow. Travel to New York which often experiences snow storms during December and January is also popular as passengers look to enjoy the shopping and festivities in the Big Apple.
Coby Benson says: “Frequently passengers fly to destinations specifically for something which would constitute ‘poor weather’. If an airline sells tickets to a ski resort or destination that expects snow where passengers are travelling especially for the snow, it is clearly not extraordinary that there is snow there and airlines must expect this and plan for it.”
Bott and Co client, Graham Gater, was travelling from London Heathrow to John F Kennedy Airport, New York on 19th December 2009.
“We were informed that the weather in New York was bad due to snow. We were told that we could not depart from Heathrow as the flight would not be able to land at JFK Airport and therefore we were transferred to a hotel overnight to see if they could sort something out for the following day. On the 20th December we were informed that alternative flights were not available and we should return home.”
Bott and Co helped Graham and his family recover £3,365.76 in compensation for their flight cancellation.
Coby Benson on claiming compensation for winter delays: “As we move toward the Christmas season many passengers will face unwanted delays but we will do all we can to ensure they get their compensation in the New Year.”
How to Claim Flight Delay Compensation
Claiming flight delay compensation remains tricky for passengers when faced with complex legal defences from airlines and expensive legal teams defending claims in court. Bott and Co have secured more than £25million in compensation for over 76,000 passengers since establishing this area of law in the UK in 2013.