Published on Friday, April 7, 2017
Ryanair has been ordered to compensate a six-month-old girl for a flight delay, even though the infant was travelling on her father's knee.
Lawyers for Bott & Co who represented Crystal Varey claimed the decision could cost airlines £10 million a year in compensation claims.
Ryanair had compensated Crystal's parents and sister for the nine hour delay to their flight from Lanzarote to Birmingham, but the airline argued that baby Crystal was not covered by EU261 flight delay compensation rules because she was travelling without a ticket and didn't have her own seat.
Her father had paid a £20 administration fee for her carriage, which the airline had claimed should be treated in the same way as reduced fares not normally available to the public, such as staff travel concessions, which aren't eligible for flight delay compensation.
However, a judge at Liverpool County Court ruled that baby Crystal should be compensated for the delay in 2015. In handing down the judgment, Judge Pearce said: "Many passengers in many situations (for example, on buses and trains) travel without having a seat. They are nonetheless passengers for that, and I can see no justification for restricting the meaning of the word in this one situation to exclude those without their own seat."
The judge also dismissed Ryanair's argument that a six-month-old would not have been inconvenienced by the delay and that compensation would be a 'windfall'.
Bott & Co said it hoped other judges would use the ruling to intervene earlier when airlines refuse compensation to infants, however Ryanair has requested leave to appeal against the decision.
A Ryanair spokesman said: "We have instructed our lawyers to immediately appeal this daft ruling. It is absurd that infants (under 2 years of age) who do not pay an air fare or occupy a seat, can now apply for up to €250 EU261 'compensation' for a flight delay, when their accompanying adults will already have been compensated.
"In this case, the two parents and a sister have already received €1,200 in EU261 compensation, which is almost four times the three one way airfares they paid of just £104. This is compo culture gone mad.
"If this ruling is not overturned we will have to consider increasing the infant fee from €20 to €40 to cover these idiotic infant compo claims."
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