We’ve all heard about a treadmill minute and a microwave minute, but what about a “flight delay minute?” Every single minute truly does count in the world of flight delay compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004, with flight delays potentially claimable if they are three hours or longer.
Taking full advantage of this, many airlines use a sneaky tactic to get out of paying owed flight delay compensation; they state that the flight was delayed merely for 2 hours and 59 minutes. This is often a “get out of jail free” card for airlines, as this length of delay means they aren’t legally obliged to pay out.
However, Bott and Co has some strong advice for passengers wanting to make a claim; if this excuse is given, you should still continue to pursue a claim against them for the inconvenience caused and the irreversible loss of your time. We’ve seen it countless times before; in 2019, we conducted the largest ever passenger survey by a law firm and the results were very telling; we found that many clients who later successfully claimed were told that their delay was 2 hours and 59 minutes long.
This isn’t the only scheme airlines shamelessly use in their attempts to forgo paying owed compensation. At Bott and Co, we’re determined to reveal their strategies, one example of which is pilots’ and airlines’ fondness of schedule padding, i.e. when airlines build in time to the estimation of a flight duration. This means that if you leave your departure airport late, upon landing it won’t count as late as it is still within the scheduled time. Yet again, by doing this airlines are ensuring that they are financially protected against paying out thousands in compensation.
One respondent to our passenger survey said: “There was a query about whether the delay was 2 hours and 59 minutes or 3 hours 1 minute.” Another said, “They just point blank refused and said the delay was less than 3 hours even when I provided proof that it wasn’t.”
The Court ruled in 2014 that ‘arrival delay’ corresponds to the time at which at least one of the doors of the aircraft is opened, the assumption being that, at that moment, passengers are permitted to leave the aircraft.
At times, airlines have been even braver in their mission not to pay out, disputing that a delay actually closer to five hours was under three hours delayed: “They told me the flight wasn’t more than three hours late. As the plane was diverted to Exeter, my arrival time at Southampton was closer to five hours late.”
Bott and Co Is Currently Acting For Passengers Fobbed Off By This Excuse
In the past six months alone, we’ve acted for 22 clients who have been fobbed off by the airline after being told that their flight delay was anywhere between 2 hours and 50 minutes to 2 hours and 59 minutes.
Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co says, “Over the years, we’ve seen countless excuses given by the airlines to shirk out of their duty of paying flight delay compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004, but this is one of the most daring. It is quite remarkable how many flights apparently landed exactly 2 hours and 59 minutes late, and passengers should be aware that this is a tactic that airlines like to try their luck with.
“Passengers should also know that legally, the Court ruled in 2014 that ‘arrival delay’ corresponds to the time at which at least one of the doors of the aircraft is opened, the assumption being that, at that moment, passengers are permitted to leave the aircraft.
“Anybody who travels by air will appreciate it can often be a considerable period of time between the aircraft parking and the aircraft doors being opened, so this decision was made in passengers’ favour.”
In the past six months alone, we’ve acted for 22 clients who have been told that their flight delay was anywhere between 2 hours and 50 minutes to 2 hours and 59 minutes.
So, with the airlines well versed in excuses to work their way around the EU Regulation, most commonly “extraordinary circumstances” such as bad weather conditions, passengers should also be clued up on the more “imaginative” defences used by the airline. If your request for flight delay compensation is rejected, due to your flight delay lasting 2 hours 59 minutes, Bott and Co would advise anyone to think twice and fight for what is most likely owed to you.