Can I Claim Flight Compensation For A Technical Defect?

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If the airline has told you your flight delay was due to a technical defect or a hidden manufacturing defect and refuses to pay you flight compensation then don’t despair! Our guide below will explain your legal rights.

We’ve recovered millions of pounds in flight delay compensation for passengers even when the airline has told them they don’t have a valid claim.

We took the airlines all the way to the Supreme Court in 2014 to clarify the law for millions of UK passengers – we’re the experts on recovering flight delay compensation for delays due to technical problems.

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Flight Compensation And Technical Difficulties

Proving that a technical problem is eligible for flight compensation is not always easy and the airlines have specialist engineers and legal teams to argue their case in Court.

However, our very own technical and legal experts have a proven track record of success in Court against the airlines and using our flight delay claim service means you won’t have to pay for any technical or legal reports as we cover all these costs.

Proving that a technical problem is eligible for flight compensation is not always easy.

Airlines are increasingly using the excuse of ‘hidden manufacturing defect’ as a reason to avoid paying flight delay compensation. This is because a hidden manufacturing defect can be classed as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and therefore not eligible for compensation under EU Regulation 261.

Delays genuinely caused by a hidden manufacturing defect are very rare however, so it’s highly unlikely this was the real reason for your delay.

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EU Regulation 261/2004

Air travellers are able to claim flight delay compensation and are protected when flying due to a European regulation called EC261/2004 or commonly abbreviated to EU261.

This regulation was put in place in 2005 to force airlines to treat passengers better when flying in and around the European Union.

Delays genuinely caused by a hidden manufacturing defect are very rare however, so it’s highly unlikely this was the real reason for your delay.

The only time an airline doesn’t have to pay compensation under the regulation is when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.

Up until we won a landmark case at the Supreme Court in 2014, airlines tried to argue that a technical problem should be classed as an extraordinary circumstance and therefore not be eligible for compensation.

The Supreme Court ruled in our favour and now technical problems that result in flight delays are eligible for compensation.

What Our Clients Say

"Bott and Co Solicitors did all the work for me. I had a difficult case with the airline refusing my compensation requests after a longer than 3 hours flight delay. Bott and Co Solicitors did all the work for me. It took a while, but the airline was forced to pay a compensation in the end with no hassle for me. Thank you!"

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Can I Claim For Hidden Manufacturing Defects?

One technical related issue that currently is still regarded by the courts as an extraordinary circumstance is a hidden manufacturing defect (HMD).

The crucial difference between a technical problem and hidden manufacturing defect is the latter would result in a mass recall of a fleet of aircraft – something which is exceptionally rare.

It’s very similar to a product recall for a tumble dryer or contaminated food item and would involve recalling all aircraft in that particular production run.

There have been high profile cases in the past with faulty battery packs on new aircraft but any hidden manufacturing defect would almost certainly make international news.

The case that first established hidden manufacturing defects were an extraordinary circumstance is Wallentin-Hermann and a subsequent case of van der Lans expanded on the point that a technical defect to be extraordinary would require disclosure of a hidden manufacturing defect by the aircraft manufacturer or a competent authority that impinged on flight safety.

We handled the leading appeal case in the UK (Munius v Jet2) which established that a hidden manufacturing defect needed to meet all of the following criteria:

  • The technical defect must be due to a fault in the manufacture of the aircraft or particular component
  • The fault must affect an entire fleet of aircraft
  • The fault must have been notified by the manufacturer or a competent authority (Such as the CAA)
  • The fault must be ‘hidden’ (i.e. unbeknown to the airline)
  • The fault must impact on flight safety.

The classic example is when the Dreamliner aircraft were grounded due to issues with the batteries. This was extraordinary because:-

  • It was a fault with the manufacturing/design of the batteries.
  • It affected all Dreamliners.
  • The FAA ordered that all such aircraft be grounded immediately.
  • The airlines were not previously aware of the relevant issue.
  • The fault impacted flight safety, as the batteries were liable to combust.

Contrast that to the technical defect in Munius (a leaking panel on the aircraft), which was not extraordinary because:-

It was not hidden – the airline had been aware of the issues for years; and The defect did not impact on flight safety, as the airline were clearly happy to carry on operating the aircraft notwithstanding the fact that they were aware of this ongoing issue.

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What Are My Claiming Rights For Delays Caused By Technical Problems?

If your flight was delayed for more than 3 hours in the last 6 years because of a technical problem then you could be eligible for up to £520 in flight delay compensation.

This also applies to claiming compensation for a cancelled flight due to technical defects, although the rules around claim amounts change slightly depending on how much notice you were given of the cancellation.

If the delay or cancellation is genuinely because of an extraordinary circumstance such as a hidden manufacturing defect resulting in an aircraft fleet recall, the airline still has to provide you with care and assistance as part of EU261.

Meet the team
Coby Benson Head Of Flight Compensation Team At Bott and Co

Coby Benson

A member of The Law Society, Coby helped establish the flight delay compensation sector in the UK.

His work has been recognised throughout the industry, winning numerous awards, including The Manchester Law Society Associate of the Year. Coby has been a key speaker on Flight Compensation, appearing on Sky News, BBC Radio and national newspapers as a flight delay expert.

Care and assistance kicks in once the flight is delayed for 2 hours (longer for long haul flights) and in this situation, regardless of the reason for the delay, the airline must provide you with the following:

  • Food and drink in reasonable relation to the waiting time.
  • Overnight accommodation. (where relevant)
  • Transport to and from the airport and the accommodation.
  • Two free calls, emails or fax messages.

If you have ended up paying for food and drink (not including alcohol) or overnight accommodation out of your own pocket then you can recover these expenses from the airline. Make sure you keep all your receipts and don’t go overboard – the courts will only allow you to claim for reasonable expenses in relation to the waiting time.

Care and Assistance – Your Rights When Your Flight Is Delayed

Flight Distance Length of Delay
Up to 1,500km

After 2 hours

1,500km-3,500km

After 3 hours

Over 1,500km and between two EU States

After 3 hour

Over 3,500km

After 4 hours

Can I Still Claim Compensation Even If The Airline Says I Can’t?

If you have been delayed more than 3 hours and tried to claim compensation from the airline but they said no – don’t give up!

Many airlines will refuse to pay compensation at first, or they will argue the delay is not claimable because it was a technical problem or a hidden manufacturing defect.

If this has happened in your particular case then we can help. Our legal team of flight delay specialists issue thousands of court proceedings against airlines on behalf of passengers like you.

We successfully recover more compensation than anyone else, and we’ll do it quicker, with no upfront costs or hidden extra charges.

There are many cases where passengers have been ignored by the airline after writing to claim compensation – or been incorrectly told they don’t have a valid claim.

In our most famous technical defect case we took Jet2 to the Court of Appeal on behalf of our client Mr Huzar after the airline refused to pay. The case even went before the Supreme Court because the airline appealed against their loss at the Court of Appeal – all for 400 Euros.

If we believe you have an eligible claim then we have shown we are prepared to take it all the way!

Case Studies Involving Technical Defects

Huzar v Jet2

We won the famous Huzar v Jet2 case eventually at the Court of Appeal – it even went before the Supreme Court back in 2014 around 3 years after the actual flight delay.

Mr Huzar initially wrote to the airline directly to claim compensation after experiencing a 27 hour delay from Malaga to Manchester with his wife and granddaughter. The airline refused to pay compensation on the basis the technical fault that delayed the flight was an extraordinary circumstance.

Mr Huzar decided to go to court and issued proceedings against the airline who were represented by a large London law firm. The judge found in favour of the airline and at this point Mr Huzar decided to contact Bott and Co for help.

We took on the case, appealed the decision, and were successful at County Court. Not wanting to give up, Jet2 appealed this decision and we went to the Court of Appeal where the judges upheld the previous decision in Mr Huzar’s favour.The airline then applied to the Supreme Court for a further appeal but this application was rejected, meaning Mr Huzar was finally able to keep his flight delay compensation.

Family Recover Compensation from Thomson

One family of four were travelling back to the UK from Orlando and were waiting to check in at the airport when they were told there was a technical problem with the plane so the flight would be delayed.

After waiting hours at the airport the airline eventually changed the reason of the delay to a pilot being taken ill and they would have to spend a night at a nearby hotel before flying out the following morning.

Without proper food and drink provided by the airline, the family had to pay out of their own pocket for an evening meal at the hotel.

They were taken back to the airport at 4am the next morning but security was closed until 6am so they were forced to wait even longer.

After contacting Thomson to claim compensation and being told the airline wouldn’t pay out because the delay was an extraordinary circumstance, the family contacted Bott and Co via the website to submit their claim and we recovered over £2,000 for them from the airline.

How To Make A Claim For Flight Delay Compensation

Making a flight delay compensation claim yourself and going direct to the airline should be a relatively simple process – unfortunately that’s not usually the case.

This is because the airlines do have a valid defence in some cases – and unless you are a legal or aviation expert, it’s not easy to know whether what the airline says is actually accurate or not.

Unlike some types of claims, such as for train delays where the train company will pay out automatically, because the airline has a possible defence, this means they can decide to go to court to try and convince the judge they shouldn’t have to pay.

Most people use our service because they don’t want to issue court proceedings and go up against the airline’s barristers by themselves – they want the experts on their side.

Claim the easy way for your delay with Bott and Co. Simply input your flight details into our award winning flight delay calculator and we’ll check your flight instantly using our database and let you know if you have a valid claim.

Then just add in the passenger details and sit back while we do all the legal work.

We’ll update you regularly by email with status and progress reports on your case, culminating in a payment of compensation into your bank account (or we’ll send you a cheque if you prefer).

Our clients typically win their cases in just 30 days when we issue court proceedings so our service is quicker than doing it yourself and you’ll save so much time and hassle.

Simple 4 Step Claims Process

  • Check your flight with our free, industry leading calculator
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    Add any extra passenger details and make your claim
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    We negotiate with the airline on your behalf
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    Claim is settled and you receive your compensation

How Much Could I Claim?

The amounts of compensation you are entitled to claim are fixed by Regulation 261 and vary depending on the length of the delay and the flight distance.

Claim amounts are not related to the cost of the ticket as the regulation is designed to compensate you for lost time and inconvenience, not reimburse your ticket price.

The maximum compensation is £520 for delays of over 4 hours on long haul flights. This amount doesn’t increase even if the delay lasts overnight or longer.

The full list of claim amounts and delay length and flight distances are below. Don’t forget our flight delay calculator will work all of this out for you automatically.

For UK passengers traveling in and out of the UK, the compensation will be paid in UK Pounds.

UK Regulation 261 Compensation Amounts in UK Pounds

Flight Distance Less than 3 hours 3 hours or more More than 4 hours Never arrived
All flights 1,500km or
less

£0

£220

£220

£220

Internal EU flights over 1,500km

£0

£350

£350

£350

Non-internal EU flights between 1,500km and 3,500km

£0

£350

£350

£350

Internal EU flights over 3,500km

£0

£260

£520

£520

If you are claiming compensation for flights outside of the UK, the compensation amounts will be paid in Euros.

EU Regulation 261 Compensation Amounts in Euros

Flight Distance Less than 3 hours 3 hours or more More than 4 hours Never arrived
All flights 1,500km or
less

£0

€250

€250

€250

Internal EU flights over 1,500km

£0

€400

€400

€400

Non-internal EU flights between 1,500km and 3,500km

£0

€400

€400

€400

Non Internal EU flights over 3,500km

£0

€300

€600

€600


*Based on 10,211 court proceedings issued between May 2013 and February 2016.