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Published on Thursday, January 31, 2013

Passenger wins compensation for flight delay

A retired teacher has become one of the first passengers to successfully sue an airline for a delayed flight.

Stoke-on-Trent small claims court this week ordered Thomas Cook to pay Jeff Halsall and his wife £680 after they were left waiting 22 hours on a flight home from Tenerife in 2009.

However, Thomas Cook claimed the award was less than it had initially offered Mr Halsall for the flight, which was delayed due to a mechanical fault.

A spokesperson for the company said, "We appreciate how frustrating flight delays can be and we've reiterated our apology to Mr Halsall for the lengthy wait he and his wife experienced.  We always look at claims such as this fairly and make every effort to resolve complaints without the need for a court hearing."

"Mr Halsall's award from the court was less than we offered him originally, but Mr Halsall chose to pursue a claim for additional compensation

"Upon considering the facts of Mr Halsall's individual complaint, we decided that an offer of compensation was the best way of dealing with the matter

"It is regrettable that we were unable to resolve it prior to the Court hearing."

Halsall brought his case after the European Court of Justice ruled last October that passengers delayed for three hours or more were entitled to the same compensation as those whose flights are cancelled (see earlier article).

The European court also ruled that passengers whose claims had been ignored by the airlines since 2010 while they contested the ruling must now be compensated. Passengers are entitled to claim for delays dating back to 2005.

A judge initially rejected Mr Halsall's claim after Thomas Cook said the mechanical fault was an 'exceptional circumstance' beyond its control.

However, the European ruling made it clear airlines couldn't use mechanical failure as an excuse to get out of compensating passengers for faults that should have been picked up as part of routine maintenance procedures.


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