Flight passengers could be owed billions of pounds in compensation depending on the outcome of two high-profile flight delay cases set for the court of appeal.
Current legislation states that airline passengers who reach their destination more than three hours late can claim £494 per person, if the delay is within the airline’s control.
A report in the Guardian states that many flyers are struggling to get their cash entitlement, with airlines refusing to pay out – even when the regulators rule against them.
Travel company Thomson is hoping to overturn an appeal after a couple were awarded £975 compensation when their flight from Gatwick to Dominican Republic was delayed.
The couple submitted a claim for compensation in December 2012 after the incident occurred just under six years earlier, but Thomson is appealing on grounds that the claim was not brought to court within two years of the delay.
Claims for delayed flights are currently subject to the UK’s statute of limitations, which allows claims to date back six years.
If Thomson’s appeal fails, it is expected that many passengers who had their claims rejected by airlines for being too old will resubmit them.
Data from passenger rights specialist Refund.me. has revealed that air passengers have failed to claim £3.2bn owed to them in compensation over the last 10 years.
Martin Lewis, creator of the website Moneysavingexpert.com, said: “Some airlines are clearly playing hardball here, even though the law is pretty plain. It’s no coincidence that there are huge discrepancies between the success rates of different airlines.”
The second case involves a claim by Ronald Huzar against Jet2.com for a flight in 2011 which was brought to court in 2013.
It was refused because the airline cited “extraordinary circumstances”, saying there was an unforeseen technical problem that meant it did not have to pay compensation.
‘Extraordinary circumstances’ often refer to poor weather or political unrest and it is hoped this case’s ruling will clarify the strength of this common reason used for payout refusals.