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Connecting flight delayed? It may now be easier to claim

Connecting flight delayed? It may now be easier to claim

Passengers with connecting flights should find it easier to claim delay compensation, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice. 

The decision means that if you book connecting flights as part of one ticket, but arrive at your final destination late, you can try to claim flight delay compensation from the airline that operated the initial flight from an EU airport – even if the delayed leg was actually operated by a non-EU airline, outside of the EU.

Under EU flight delay law EU261 you can claim compensation if you arrive at your destination more than three hours late, due to something deemed to be within the airline's control. These rules apply to EU-regulated flights – so a flight that departed from an EU airport, regardless of the airline, or a flight on an EU airline that landed at an EU airport.

For full information see our Flight Delay Compensation guide.

What was the ruling? 

The case featured 11 passengers who'd made a single reservation for flights from Prague to Bangkok, via Abu Dhabi, with the Czech air carrier České aerolinie.

The first flight, operated by České aerolinie, arrived on time in Abu Dhabi, but the second flight, operated by Etihad Airways, arrived more than eight hours late in Bangkok. 

The court ruled that České aerolinie was liable to pay the compensation under EU261, even though Etihad operated the delayed flight, which took off from a non-EU airport. 

It said where there is a single reservation with one or more connecting flights, "an operating air carrier that has performed the first flight cannot take refuge behind a claim that the performance of a subsequent flight operated by another air carrier was imperfect."

Coby Benson, solicitor at flight delay firm Bott and Co, said: "This is good news for passengers because it gives them more options for claiming compensation when inconvenienced by a delayed or cancelled flight.

"The judgment now allows people to choose whether they wish to claim against the European airline that they booked with or the non-European airline that operated the second flight. Previously, a passenger was only able to pursue a claim against the airline which operated a connecting flight outside of the EU, which was not typically covered under EU regulation 261/2004. This was tricky, especially if the airline didn't have a UK office."