Travelers’ rights protected by new EU Court of Justice ruling

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has yet again published an important decision on the interpretation of European passenger rights. The judgement of the EJC in the case C-502/18 CS and Others v České aerolinie a.s means that the protection that the European law grants its passengers extends to all flights that leave the EU and are booked under the same booking reference, even if the delay was caused on a later connection by another airline. This extends to United States travelers, as well, who are taking flights out of the EU.

“We believe this decision to be a real game changer which has a significant impact on air passenger rights throughout Europe. For the first time, an airline may be liable for compensation for the mistakes of another. However, it does make sense from a passenger perspective that the passenger can claim with the airline that sold the passenger the ticket. We definitely expect many airlines to be opposed to this decision, as is usually the case when the rights of their own customers are reinforced” states Christian Nielsen, Chief Legal Officer at AirHelp.

The last few years, the ECJ has on several occasions clarified and strengthened passenger rights in regards to problems with connecting flights. In a ruling last year, in Case C-537/17, Wegener vs Royal Air Maroc, the court stated that “The right to compensation for long delays of flights applies to connecting flights to third States with stopovers outside the EU”.

Missed connecting flight: compensation up to 600 euros

The airline operating the disrupted flight should offer affected passengers alternative transport if both flights have been booked together under the same booking reference. In addition, the airline must also pay passengers between $290 to $700 in compensation if the passenger arrives at the final destination more than three hours late when the missed connection is due to a delay on a previous flight. The passenger may also be entitled to compensation if they miss a connection when the passenger is denied boarding or if their first flight has been cancelled. If the cause is a cancellation, the total delay to the final destination does not have to be as much as three hours.