European airlines must pay passengers for late flights, court rules

Is your airline trying to make up for your ridiculously late flight by giving you free candy? Don't let them play you like that. "Most of the time, passengers get fobbed off with vouchers for a free meal or a refreshment. While in reality they are legally entitled to a much higher compensation," activist Raymond Veldkampn told Reuters.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that people who fly in the European Union are entitled to money (as much as 600 euros) if a flight is more than three hours late, the Daily Telegraph reported. Under current EU regulations, passengers flyinging to or from the EU are entitled to meals, drinks, telephone calls or emails if the flight is delayed by at least three hours. But since 2009, an EU court ruled that passengers could also receive monetary compensation, although the new regulations were never quite clear.

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Airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) and British Airways nonetheless challenged that ruling, but lost today when EU's top court sided with the passengers, Bloomberg News reported. “Where passengers reach their final destination three hours or more after the scheduled arrival time, they may claim fixed compensation from the airline, unless the delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances,” the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg said in the ruling.

The judgment clarifies a confusing area in the flight delay regulation and opens up airlines to potentially millions in claims, the Guardian reported. The Civil Aviation Authority told the Guardian that the verdict provides "much needed clarity".