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What rights do customers have when they get delayed on the train or plane?

Ryanair has lost a test case over flight delays, in Manchester County Court today which could have implications for flight delay compensation claims.

The Court ruled that Ryanair could not cut the time a passenger has in which to claim from six years to two by adding a clause in its terms.

Ryanair said the six-year rule was “unnecessary and unreasonable” and that it would appeal against the decision.

One must say that it is difficult to understand why any passenger would wait 6 years before bringing a claim, but that is the law! Ryanair said that more than 90% of passengers affected by delays make a valid claim within two years so very few would need to submit one between two and six years after the event. It appears to be a matter of principle as airlines are not happy about having to pay out for delays which they argue are outside their control.

With train travel, train operators generally pay compensation after 1 hour delay, but traditionally have issued vouchers which expire after 12 months. This has recently changed and rail passengers who suffer travel delays can now claim refunds in cash instead of vouchers as new compensation arrangements come into effect.

The changes have been made after consumer groups criticised the vouchers, saying they could not be used online or to access cheap fares.  Passengers will be entitled to refunds if their train is delayed by at least 30 minutes.

For delayed flights, passengers can claim between £180 and £440 for a delay of at least three hours, depending on the length of the wait and the distance to be travelled.

Compensation for delayed flights is dependant on the reason for the delay. If the airline can prove the delay was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’, then no compensation is payable.

What constitutes “extraordinary circumstances” is often subject to debate, but includes situations which are beyond the control of the airline.


Disclaimer: The information and any commentary on the law contained in this article is for information purposes only. No responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the information and commentary or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. The article was written on the date shown and may not represent the law as it stands subsequently. For the avoidance of doubt, the views in this article are personal to the author and not attributable to any other individual or organisation.