The "Extraordinary circumstances" impeding your compensation

In previous articles we covered passenger rights when it comes to flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding. All of us, in our capacity as flight passengers, traveling from EU based airports or arriving within those borders, on a carrier registered therewithin, including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, fall under the protection of the 261/2004 European Regulation, be those companies low-budget or otherwise.

In line with the governing principle, any passenger who’s fallen victim to the aforementioned scenarios is in fact within their full rights to seek compensation, but as we can all imagine air travel providers are anything but queuing up to spread this valuable insight, even if so bound by law.

There are in fact certain cases where airlines can rightfully refuse the compensation we may think are entitled to, but what exactly are those situations? To be able to better understand and apply our rights as customers within the air travel industry, it is important to introduce the concept of “extraordinary circumstances”.

Extraordinary circumstances allow for the distinguishing between disruptions resultant from the airline’s malpractices and such derived from causes outside of their reach and therefore play a central role in the dynamic of air travel compensation.

As the term has become a popular way for airlines to distance themselves from any accountability for passenger inconvenience, caused by flight schedule disruptions, it is important to know when the circumstances are in fact – extraordinary.

So what exactly counts as extraordinary

There are several categories that fall under that dome and deem providers as not guilty:

  • Political circumstances such as warfare and civil unrest scenarios that may handicap the flight
  • Heavy rains, snow, storms and other adverse weather conditions jeopardising safety
  • Industrial action in the form of airline and ground staff related strikes causing delays and disruptions
  • Illness: Related to crew members and / or passengers

Situations to look out for

On the opposing spectrum, some reasons commonly sold as extraordinary that don’t actually fall under that category may be:

  • Poor weather conditions affecting a previous flight resulting in knock-on effects on your own don't actually apply
  • Technical faults such as aircraft maintenance delays caused by the airline often conveyed as extraordinary or failure to prepare the necessary flight documentation

There are other situations that don’t classify as extraordinary that can be very case-sensitive. If you’ve previously been denied boarding access or have had your flight delayed or cancelled there is a very good chance you may be owed compensation.

Our online calculator allows you to easily estimate the potential value of you claim. If you are unsure of whether your case has grounds or falls under the “extraordinary circumstances” graph, then do not hesitate to contact us with details of your claim and we’ll be more than happy to advise you as to the best course of action.