Airline Calls Flight Delay Compensation Ruling "Cuckoo"

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A European court, amid strong airline protest, has set rules for the monetary compensation of passengers based on the distance of their scheduled flights and the amount of time by which passengers were delayed. Maximum compensation is 600 Euros (about $900). Specific guidelines define compensation rates that begin at 250 Euros ($375) to be determined by the time of delay and the distance of flight. The airlines have not yet proposed that passengers pay compensation to them if they provide early arrival, but speaking for Virgin Atlantic, spokesman Paul Charles called the judges "cuckoo." Charles said, "The idea that a technical fault is within an airline's control is absurd." The regulations stipulate conditions for reimbursement of ticket costs and a return flight to the original departure point or re-routing "under comparable transport conditions" to their destination. Passengers delayed by more than three hours could receive as much as those whose flights were canceled, according to the Telegraph UK. This is a European Court of Justice ruling. That means that the task of interpreting its final meaning will be left to national courts.

To the airlines falls the task of showing "extraordinary" circumstances for the delay, if they wish to avoid payment. Find the ruling online here. The U.S. passenger advocacy group FlyersRights.org supports similar action in the U.S.