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8 Circumstances To Note for Flight Delay Compensation

The European Passenger Rights Regulation EC 261/04 provides protection for EU airline passengers against flight delays and cancellations. 

However, not every flight delay or cancellation is grounds for a flight delay compensation claim. We are prepared to fight for your right to make that type of claim, but we are also experts on understanding when you are eligible. 

For starters you must possess a valid ticket and booking confirmation and your flight has to begin at an airport in the EU, or land at one. To go one step further, the airline’s headquarters must be located within the EU. 

For the sake of this topic, we want to focus on one particular distinction that needs to be made. There is obviously the location factor, but in order to collect EU flight delay compensation the cancellation must be due to something that’s in the airline’s control. 

Your right to compensation relies on the reason for the cancellation, and whether or not the airline was holding up their end of the bargain. Extraordinary circumstances represent the exception to most rights that passengers have to flight delay compensation. 

8 Examples of Extraordinary Circumstances 

When extraordinary circumstances are the driving force behind any issues, your flight delay compensation claim might not fall upon the airlines shoulders. Here are 8 instances when extraordinary circumstances may apply. 

1. Security Risks 

If there is a situation that presents an imminent danger such as a terrorist threat or any other security risk that requires grounding a flight, passengers won’t have much of an argument to make when filing a compensation claim. These are very serious matters and airlines are expected to treat them as such. EU flight delay compensation cases can be hard to win if this is the situation. 

When unforeseen security risks present themselves, the airline is obligated to take the necessary safety precautions. This is an example of an extraordinary circumstance that will be tough to argue against. It might even be the type of situation where passengers have no qualms about the flight delay or cancellation.  

2. Severe Weather 

Even today, with advanced weather forecasting and predictive models at the disposal of airlines and airports all around the world, the unpredictability of severe weather can cripple the aviation industry like few things can. 

That’s why severe weather is one of the most common reasons for flight delay compensation requests being denied. It’s an extraordinary circumstance that is easy to establish, and comes with a relatively broad standard compared to other members of this list. Weather brings a high level of variance over the course of a day, and airlines might lean towards a more cautious approach. If you are making a flight delay compensation request and weather was to blame, understand that your chances of claiming that compensation is lessened. 

3. Political Instability 

Sure, political instability and the danger that stems from it is a bit drastic, but it’s a real issue that can play a role in an airline’s decisionmaking process.  

If there is a situation that could put the lives of passengers or crew in danger, it will be treated as an extraordinary circumstance that is grounds for a flight delay or flight cancellation. However, there is a chance that a delayed or cancelled flight is wholly insignificant compared to the crisis taking place in either your arrival or departure location. 

4. Industrial Action  

While it’s true that strikes by the airline staff will not be considered extraordinary circumstances, that doesn’t apply for airport staff. This includes airport security, air traffic controllers, and anything in between that impacts the timeliness or safety of your flight. 

Circumstances such as these are out of the airlines control, and fall under the extraordinary umbrella.  

5. Medical Emergencies 

If a flight is diverted, delayed, or cancelled due to a medical emergency, extraordinary circumstances apply and your flight delay compensation request will be a challenge. It’s similar to the duty of care that you are entitled to during a flight delay, which doesn’t end until you reach your destination. 

Ultimately, these are unpredictable and handling the medical situation the proper way falls under the airlines duty of care to each passenger that boards their planes. 

6. Passenger Disputes 

These situations can be awkward. Traveling via airplane can lead to some testy situations, and sometimes they even lead to de-planing or extensive flight delays if authorities have to get involved. 

Requesting flight delay compensation in this situation might have more of a gray area than others on our list, but at the end of the day it’s a question of safety and airlines can find protection behind that. 

7. Bird Strikes 

Bird strikes being considered an extraordinary circumstance is a new development in the EU. This happened in 2017, when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that “a collision between an aircraft and a bird is an extraordinary circumstance”. Therefore airlines can reject claims for compensation from passengers delayed by three hours or more by a bird strike (via Independent). 

This makes sense because it’s a major safety issue, but it has empowered airlines in their fight against compensation claims and represents yet another hurdle for you to overcome when making your flight delay compensation claim. 

8. Runway Closures 

Whether it’s due to airport staffing, weather conditions, or repairs, any runway closures lead to a congested tarmac. These decisions are made by air traffic control, and they supercede pre-existing flight schedules. As a result, runway closures are classified as extraordinary circumstances.  

Exploring Your Flight Delay Compensation Request 

Our list of 8 extraordinary circumstances are worth taking into account, but our legal team is ready to review your case and fight for your compensation. After all, extraordinary circumstances are a legal assessment, and if a flight is delayed and the airline cannot produce solid evidence to prove exceptional circumstances, it must compensate all affected passengers. 

TravelRefund is well versed in flight delay compensation rules and we are always working to improve the legal process. Our business model is “no cure, no pay.” When you charge us with collecting your compensation, it is a simple success/fail scenario. If you are interested in exploring how we can help you, fill out our online form today!