The only good news about a flight delay or cancellation is that you may get up to €600 in compensation. Even if the airline claims that your flight was delayed due to technical problems, you are still entitled to compensation. It is their responsibility to keep their aircraft in operation.
SkyRefund gives you a quick and easy way to determine if your flight is eligible for compensation. Just enter your flight details and our compensation calculator will immediately inform you if you can claim for your delay.
Technical issues? Your rights under EC 261/2004
Under European Regulation 261 (EC261) airlines are required to compensate passengers if their journey has been disrupted as a result of technical problems.
According to the Regulation, air carriers have a responsibility to their passengers. They have to take you to your final destination on time. As part of this obligation, they are expected to take all reasonable measures - including routine technical maintenance - to avoid flight disruptions like delays and cancellations. Unless they do so, they are required to compensate you for your trouble and inconvenience.
Are technical faults extraordinary circumstances?
The only case when airlines are freed from having to pay flight compensation is when the disruption was caused by extraordinary circumstances. Examples of such circumstances lying outside the responsibility of the air carrier include: inclement weather conditions, political/ civil unrest, or hidden manufacturing defects.
Technical problems, however, lie within the responsibilities of the airline and are not deemed extraordinary.
How much can you claim?
Your compensation amount will range from €250 to €600 per passenger, depending on the flight distance. The general rule is simple - you are entitled to compensation if:
- you are flying from the EU or arriving at an EU airport on a flight operated by an EU airline, and
- you experience a delay of over 3 hours at arrival.
You can easily verify your eligibility-- simply enter your flight details and submit your claim. Our team of travel and legal experts will help you assert your rights! We will take all of the necessary legal steps to ensure that you receive your compensation and relieve you of all of the bureaucratic and administrative hassles of claiming your refund.
We charge a 25% fee for our services, but only after your compensation has been approved. No Win- No Fee!
What is the difference between a technical fault and a hidden manufacturing defect?
The difference between the two is crucial as it directly affects your eligibility for flight delay compensation. Today, technical faults do not exempt airlines from the obligation to pay passengers compensation in case of flight disruptions. Air carriers are freed from this obligation only when the mechanical fault was due to hidden manufacturing defects. These are seen as extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s responsibilities.
Technical issues: Claim your flight delay compensation
Under EU rules, airlines have to pay compensation even if the reason for the disruption was an unexpected technical problem. Although the claiming process may seem complicated and the paperwork overwhelming, do not give up.
Here are several inspiring stories about passengers who fought for their rights. They not only received their compensation but also changed the rules in your favour.
Wallentin-Hermann vs Alitalia
When EC 261 was signed in 2004, technical faults were considered exceptional circumstances. Thus, airlines were freed from the obligation to pay flight compensation in case of a mechanical fault.
However, in 2008 this changed. Friederike Wallentin-Hermann had booked Alitalia tickets for herself, her husband and daughter. They were travelling from Vienna to Brindisi in south-east Italy, via Rome. Their flight was delayed due to engine problems and the family reached their destination 4 hours later than expected. The passenger decided to claim compensation under EC 261 and took her case to court.
The judges determined that if an airline carries out minimal maintenance to simply comply with the rules, it has not taken ’all reasonable measures’. Therefore, if such maintenance hasn’t been carried out or if certain technical faults come to light during aircraft maintenance, they do not constitute extraordinary circumstances and passengers can claim compensation for the technical problem, which caused the flight delay.
2014: Huzar vs Jet2
In 2014 Ronald Huzar won the case against Jet2 and created binding case law for all future flight delay compensation claims in England and Wales.
In 2011 Mr Huzar was travelling with his wife and their granddaughter from Malaga to Manchester. Their flight was delayed by 27 hours as engineers had to check a defect in the fuel shut-off valve and find a solution.
Mr Huzar brought his complaint to the small claims court but his claim was dismissed. He did not give up. The passenger decided to enlist the help of solicitors and to appeal at Manchester County Court. The solicitors based their case on the Wallentin-Hermann precedent.
This time the judge ruled in his favour, claiming that while technical defects leading to delays may be unexpected, fixing such problems is inherent in the regular activities of the airline. This confirmed that technical issues do not exempt airlines from liability.
Jet2 decided to try and overturn this decision but the Court of Appeal judges upheld the previous ruling.
So after three long years, Mr Huzar and his family successfully got their compensation.
Corina van der Lans vs KLM
Then, in 2015, the case of Van der Lans lead to a further narrowing of the definition of extraordinary circumstances.
Ms van der Lans’s flight from Ecuador to the Netherlands was delayed by 29 hours. She took her case to court and the judges ruled in her favour. The conclusion?- when a flight delay due to a technical fault is due to wear and tear, even if unexpected, it lies within the responsibility of the air carrier to prevent or mitigate.
Hidden manufacturing defects are extraordinary circumstances
Airlines are exempt from the obligation to pay compensation only if the defect found in the aircraft or its component is a hidden manufacturing defect. These happen very rarely. A mechanical fault is considered an extraordinary circumstance only if it was:
- It was unexpectedly revealed (by the manufacturer or the Civil Aviation Authority, for example),
- it affects the flight's safety,
- it was hidden (the airline/manufacturer was previously unaware of it), and
- it affects the entire aircraft fleet.
Such hidden manufacturing defects usually make it into the international news and result in mass recalls or the grounding of an entire fleet of aircraft.
2019: Boeing 737 Max
Take the Boeing 737 Max, for example. After two fatal crashes within 5 months, the whole fleet was grounded and speculations about technological issues involving software were in the news all over the world.
First, China and Indonesia, then the European Union, followed by many more countries globally, grounded the aircraft due to safety concerns. Only recently, American Airlines extended the cancellation of Boeing 737 Max flights until the end of the summer season cancelling 115 flight per day.
Examples of issues that qualify as technical faults
You are probably well aware of the Boeing 737 Max issue. Such high-profile cases usually lead to mass groundings causing cancellations rather than last minute delays.
Therefore, if your airline claims that your plane will be late due to technical problems, these would probably be faults related to maintenance or wear and tear. Some examples of issues that would be classed as standard technical faults include:
- wiring issues,
- instrument malfunctions,
- accidental damage to the aircraft,
- engine issues,
- cracked windshields.
Remember that in case such mechanical issues lead to a flight delay exceeding 3 hours, you may be eligible for compensation - up to €600 per passenger. Three hours may seem too long to a person whose plans have just been disrupted but keep calm and know your rights!
Your rights in case of a flight delay due to technical issues
A flight delay or cancellation is never pleasant. Even when a single plane fails to take off on time, more than a hundred passengers are affected.
Perhaps, you can easily picture all the frustration and disappointment. Knowing your rights pays off-- you could claim flight compensation for the delay caused by the technical fault.
EC 261 was created to guarantee your basic rights and improve your experience as a traveller. In addition to compensation you also have the following rights:
Right to food and drinks
If you find yourself stranded at the airport waiting for your flight to take off, you are also entitled to care. In case of long delays or cancellations, the airline is expected to offer you refreshments and meals.
In some cases, passengers are offered sandwiches and water. In others, they receive food and drink vouchers they can use at the airport. These are usually proportionate to the delay and distance of your flight.
You should not expect anything luxurious - no French restaurants and foie gras or expensive whiskey to make your stay at the airport more pleasant. But your most urgent needs should be met.
You are entitled to accommodation, if needed
Delays may turn out to be longer than expected, especially if the reason is unpredictable, like bad weather or an unforeseen technical problem. If you realise that you have to spend the night at the airport while waiting for your flight, you should know that you are entitled to hotel accommodation.
The airline is required to assist you in finding a suitable place to spend the night. They also have to cover your expenses. Don’t worry about the travel costs between the airport and the hotel - they are the responsibility of the air carrier too.
Keep all receipts
Depending on the circumstances, it may take the airline too long to arrange food and drinks or hotel rooms for all its passengers. If this is the case, do not hesitate to take things into your own hands.
Buy all the basic necessities you need (with some help from your common sense) and simply keep the receipts. The air carrier will cover all reasonable expenses for refreshments and accommodation in case of long flight delays or cancellations.
Your right to a refund if your delay exceeds 5 hours
EC 261 gives all passengers the right to cancel their plans if a flight delay exceeds 5 hours. If the disruption has made your journey pointless or you decide to reschedule, you have the right to give up travelling and get your money back.
Right to rerouting
On the other hand, if your flight is delayed but you still need to travel as soon as possible, the airline is required to make suitable arrangements. They have to offer you a replacement flight under similar conditions at the earliest opportunity or a time convenient for you.
Note that the right to a refund or rerouting does not take away your right to compensation for a delayed flight!
Right to phone calls/emails.
If you are on a business trip or you know that someone will be expecting you at the airport, a delay may be extremely unpleasant for both parties. It would be wise to let them know about the flight disruption. This is where your right to communication comes into effect.
You are entitled to two free phone calls, emails or fax messages. Your best option would be to contact the representatives of your airline and ask them about the opportunities they offer.
Right to information
If your flight fails to take off on time, the airline should provide status updates to all affected passengers.
So if you see the text ‘Delayed’ next to your flight on the Departures board, your best option would be to head to the Check-in desk. All airlines are required by law to provide information about the reason for any delays and cancellations. They also need to inform passengers of their passenger rights and tell you what you are entitled to under EC 261.
We hope you feel better prepared for possible airport crises.
Keep calm and have a safe flight!