What is meant by ‘extraordinary circumstances’?
“You are not entitled to compensation as the problem with your flight was caused by extraordinary circumstances,” is a reason regularly given by airlines. But what is meant by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and in which situations is it a valid reason for the airline not to pay compensation?
Your rights as stated in Regulation 261/2004 and The Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Regulation 261/2004 has been in effect in Europe since 2005 and after Brexit the airpassenger rights are protected by The Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. Both regulations protect the rights of airline passengers. With a flight delay of three hours or more, for example, you, as an airline passenger, are entitled to compensation of up to €600 per person. Regulation 261/2004 and The Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 state that affected passengers are not entitled to this compensation when the airline can show that flight problem was caused by extraordinary circumstances. However, what exactly falls under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ is not specifically stated.
Since 2005, there have been various official rulings that have further clarified what an extraordinary circumstance actually is. For example, the Van der Lans ruling and the Walletin-Hermann ruling. The most important principle in determining an extraordinary circumstance is that the problem must stem from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent to the normal operation and the activity of the air carrier and are beyond its control.
After many years of experience, we are able to determine whether you are entitled to compensation. Through access to our unique Lennoc Flight Intelligence database and the many court cases we have successfully handled on behalf of passengers, we have the knowledge and experience to judge when an airline is making an unjustified claim of ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
Examples of extraordinary circumstances
An ‘extraordinary circumstance’ is a situation in which there is the airline is not responsible for the problems with the flight. This includes the following situations:
- Extreme weather conditions during the flight, such as heavy fog or a storm
- Natural disasters, such as a volcanic ash cloud
- Strike action by air traffic control
- Medical emergency landings
- Acts of terrorism
- Situations with passengers on board the airplane
Situations which are not seen as extraordinary circumstances are:
- Technical faults on the airplane
- Crew shortages or sickness
- Strikes by airline personnel
Right to care
Regulation 261/2004 and The Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 state that airlines have an obligation to care for their passengers. The level of care depends on the distance of the flight and the duration of the delay.
- With a flight up to 1,500 km after a delay of two hours or more
- With a flight between 1,500 km and 3,500 km, after a delay of three hours or more
- With a flight exceeding 3,500 km after a delay of four hours or more. Care includes providing food, drink and, if necessary, hotel accommodation. The airline must always provide care, even if the flight delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances.
Are you in doubt on your right to compensation?
It is perhaps difficult for you to determine why your flight was delayed, but you can always put your flight details into our calculator and receive free advice. When you submit your claim through EUclaim, we will ensure that you get what you’re entitled to. EUclaim’s service is offered on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, so there is no financial risk to you whatsoever