A mother who missed her daughter’s music concert after her plane was delayed by almost seven hours has won a long-running court battle with flight operator Jet2.
The landmark ruling paves the way for thousands of unhappy passengers to seek compensation for delays to their flights, her legal team said.
Hopefully now it’s time for the airlines to pay us what the law says they shouldKim Allen
Kim Allen (right) was on her way to Marbella to see her daughter Charlese play a gig with her band when a technical fault delayed her plane.
Her Jet2 flight from Manchester to Malaga, on March 26, 2012, was delayed by just under seven hours by a flap slat fault that engineers struggled to fix.
But after the operator claimed the malfunction was an “extraordinary” circumstance that meant it did not have to pay out, Ms Allen, from Lytham, decided to take legal action in 2013.
Now, after a judge called time on repeated delays that held up the court case, Ms Allen said she hopes the court battle will encourage operators to treat passengers with more respect.
She added: “Nobody told us what was going on. They didn’t give us vouchers for food and drink until it had been six hours and then the only place left open ran out of food because of the demand – the vouchers were absolutely useless.”
As well as the inconvenience, self-employed Ms Allen said she ended up having to shell out for food and taxi fare that she should not have had to pay.
But even after discovering she was entitled to compensation, she found Jet2 were quick to contest her €400 claim.
A decade ago, the European Union brought in legislation, known as Regulation 261, which penalised airlines for cancelling flights at short notice – recommending cash compensation ranging from €250 to €600.
The European Court of Justice later ruled that a delay in arrival of three hours or more was equivalent to a cancellation, entitling passengers on affected flights to compensation.
The only defence available to airlines was that the delay was caused by “extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.”
Until last year, airlines routinely rejected claims for delays caused by technical problems, saying they were “extraordinary” events.
Jet2 asked to put the case on hold while judges decided another case that hinged on whether technical faults qualified as extraordinary circumstances that mean operators do not have to pay compensation.
And after another request to put back the ruling in Ms Allen’s case, a judge at Liverpool County Court yesterday refused, saying: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Ms Allen’s legal team Bott and Co said the decision will be welcome news to thousands of people whose cases against five major airlines were waiting on the outcome of Ms Allen’s hearing.
Ms Allen added: “I’d done my research and understood that, by law, I was entitled to €400 so I just presumed they would pay out without any problems.
“We’ve all been kept waiting but I’m really happy with this decision. Hopefully now it’s time for the airlines to pay us what the law says they should.”
Jet2 may yet decide to appeal the decision.