A ruling by the Manchester County Court could mean bird strikes will not necessarily count as an extraordinary circumstance anymore. District Judge Sunil Iyer ruled in favour of Timothy Ash and his family yesterday, meaning airline Thomas Cook will need to pay compensation. The ruling could potentially clear the way for other similar claims to be paid out.
The family was travelling on a Thomas Cook flight from Antalya to Manchester back in 2011. They experienced a delay of more than five hours and had so far been unsuccessful in claiming compensation.
According to regulation EC 261/2004, airline passengers are entitled to financial compensation if their flight is delayed by three or more hours, cancelled or they are denied boarding. In the UK, passengers can claim compensation for flights that took place up to 6 years ago. Depending on the flight distance, compensation can range up to £ 510 per person.
Despite this regulation there are loop holes, so called "extraordinary circumstances" under which the regulation does not apply. Political unrest, adverse weather conditions or technical faults are some. Bird strikes are classified as such as well. Though judges rule differently in different cases and across European countries, the ruling may be a sign of things to come and of a changing perspective on the category of extraordinary circumstances.
For years there has been much discussion on the exact definition of an extraordinary circumstance and all too often, airlines are quick to refer to these in order to avoid having to pay out compensation. While this recent ruling is a beacon of hope for passengers, so far it pertains to a single case only. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be enforced EU-wide.
Written by: Team Flight-Delayed.co.uk