Top 10 Flight Delay Compensation Legal Cases and Their Outcomes

The top 10 legal cases related to flight delay compensation and their outcomes. It provides a brief overview of each case, including the background, the legal arguments, and the judgments. Discusses how these cases have influenced the policies and practices of airlines and regulators.

Flight delays and cancellations can not only disrupt travel plans, but also lead to financial losses. European Union air passengers are protected under EC Regulation 261/2004, which offers compensation for certain flight disruptions. In this article, we will explore the top 10 flight delay compensation legal cases in the European Union and their outcomes, helping passengers understand their eligibility for compensation under the regulation.

Sturgeon v. Condor Flugdienst GmbH (2009)

Outcome: Passengers are entitled to compensation for long delays.
This landmark case ruled that passengers facing delays of three hours or more are entitled to compensation, similar to those who experience cancelled flights. This ruling set the stage for numerous compensation claims for delayed flights.

Nelson v. Deutsche Lufthansa AG (2012)

Outcome: Confirmed the Sturgeon ruling.
This case reinforced the Sturgeon ruling and established that passengers are eligible for compensation for delays of three hours or more, even if the flight eventually took off.

McDonagh v. Ryanair Ltd (2013)

Outcome: Airlines are responsible for providing assistance during extraordinary circumstances.
In this case, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that airlines must provide care and assistance to passengers during extraordinary circumstances, such as the volcanic ash cloud that disrupted flights across Europe in 2010.

Van der Lans v. KLM (2015)

Outcome: Technical difficulties are not considered extraordinary circumstances.
The ECJ ruled that technical problems, such as faulty components, are not extraordinary circumstances, and airlines cannot use them as an excuse to avoid paying compensation.

TUIfly v. Meyrer (2018)

Outcome: Wildcat strikes are not considered extraordinary circumstances.
In this case, the ECJ ruled that a wildcat strike (an unannounced labor strike) does not qualify as an extraordinary circumstance, and airlines must compensate passengers for delays or cancellations resulting from such strikes.

C-501/17, C-502/17, C-503/17, and C-504/17 (2018)

Outcome: Connecting flights are covered under EC 261/2004.
The ECJ ruled that passengers travelling on connecting flights with a single reservation are covered under EC 261/2004, even if the delayed or cancelled flight is operated by a non-EU carrier outside the EU.

C-195/17 (2018)

Outcome: Passengers can claim compensation up to the national limitation period.
The ECJ ruled that passengers can claim compensation for flight delays or cancellations up to the national limitation period, which varies depending on the country but can be as long as 10 years in some cases.

C-163/18 (2019)

Outcome: Bird strikes are considered extraordinary circumstances.
The ECJ ruled that bird strikes are considered extraordinary circumstances, and airlines are not obliged to pay compensation for delays or cancellations caused by them.

C-28/20 (2020)

Outcome: Compensation applies regardless of the distance between the original and replacement flights.
The ECJ ruled that passengers are entitled to compensation under EC 261/2004, even if the distance between the original and replacement flights differs.

C-826/19 (2021)

Outcome: Compensation is not due for delays caused by the passenger.
In this case, the ECJ ruled that passengers are not entitled to compensation for delays caused by their actions, such as arriving late at the boarding gate.


The above legal cases provide valuable insight for EU air passengers seeking compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004. Understanding these cases and their outcomes can help passengers determine their eligibility for compensation and navigate the claims process more effectively.

Related Questions

What is the significance of flight delay compensation legal cases?

Flight delay compensation legal cases have significant implications for air passengers and the airline industry. These cases help to establish legal precedents and clarify the rights and responsibilities of passengers and airlines in the event of flight disruptions. They also help to hold airlines accountable for delays and ensure that passengers receive fair compensation for any inconvenience caused.

What is the time limit for filing a claim for flight delay compensation?

The time limit for filing a claim for flight delay compensation can vary depending on the laws and regulations in the country where the flight was scheduled to depart from or arrive at.

In the European Union, for example, passengers have up to 3 years to file a claim under the EU regulation 261/2004.

However, it is recommended that passengers file a claim as soon as possible after the flight delay or cancellation to ensure that they meet any relevant time limits and to increase the chances of a successful claim.

It is also important to note that some airlines may have their own specific time limits for filing claims, so passengers should check with the airline to determine the applicable deadline.

What is the difference between EU and non-EU laws regarding flight delay compensation?

The European Union has established regulations that require airlines to compensate passengers for flight delays, cancellations, and denied boarding in certain situations.

These regulations, known as EU Regulation 261/2004, provide specific criteria for determining the amount of compensation that passengers are entitled to receive based on the flight’s distance and the delay’s length.

Non-EU countries may have their own laws and regulations related to flight delays and cancellations, but these may not provide the same level of protection or compensation as the EU regulations.

Therefore, passengers traveling to or from the EU are generally better protected in terms of their rights to compensation for flight disruptions than passengers traveling to or from non-EU countries.

How have airlines responded to flight delay compensation legal cases?

Airlines have responded to flight delay compensation legal cases in different ways. Some airlines have complied with court rulings and paid compensation to affected passengers, while others have challenged the legal interpretation of the relevant laws and regulations or sought to limit their liability.

In some cases, airlines have sought to delay or avoid paying compensation by arguing that the flight delay or cancellation was caused by circumstances beyond their control, such as extreme weather or air traffic control issues.

However, courts have generally held that airlines are responsible for compensating passengers for flight disruptions unless they can demonstrate that the delay or cancellation was truly beyond their control.

Overall, flight delay compensation legal cases have put pressure on airlines to improve their policies and practices regarding flight disruptions and to ensure that passengers receive fair compensation for any inconvenience caused.

How can passengers protect their rights and ensure fair compensation practices by airlines?

Firstly, passengers should be aware of their rights under relevant laws and regulations, such as EU Regulation 261/2004, and should gather evidence of any flight delays or cancellations, including the reason for the disruption and the impact on their travel plans.

If a flight is delayed or canceled, passengers should file a complaint with the airline as soon as possible and request compensation if they are eligible under the applicable laws and regulations.

If the airline does not respond or denies the claim, passengers may seek assistance from a claims management company or file a complaint with the relevant regulatory authority.

It is also important for passengers to assert their rights and hold airlines accountable for any failures to comply with legal obligations related to flight disruptions.

By taking these steps, passengers can help to ensure that airlines provide fair compensation practices and uphold the rights of air travelers.

Pramod Ram

Pramod Ram

Digital Marketing Strategist

Pramod Ram heads the Online Marketing and Content Marketing Team at Claim Flights GmbH. He loves to travel, read books, watch movies and do intensive research.

If your flight delays for more than 3 hours, or was canceled, you may be eligible for compensation up to €600 based on EU 261 rule.

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