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Travel

Has your flight delayed? seek compensation

JKIA
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Is there anything more inconvenient than booking a flight only to get to the airport and see the glaring flashing sign that your flight is delayed or worse you board the flight anticipating a timely departure only to be held on the stand awaiting take off?

Passengers who experience a delay are not entitled to compensation. However, to ensure passenger protection and airlines do not haphazardly inconvenience passengers with long delays, the European Court of Justice ruled that any passenger who experiences a delay of three hours or more is entitled to compensation just like the passenger whose flight is cancelled.

But, this is not an automatic right. The flight must have been departing from any country within the EU or departing from any country outside the EU operated by an EU carrier.

Additionally, if the airline can prove there were extraordinary circumstances that caused the delay to the flight and no reasonable measures could have been taken to avoid the delay, then the passenger will not be entitled to any compensation.

Common delays to flight include a bird strike on the aircraft, lighting strike, thunderstorms, foreign object damage to the aircraft and crew sickness among others.

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Also, if there was a delay of three hours, but part of the delay was inherent in the operation of the air carrier, for example, crew shortage, and the remaining part of the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances and is less than three hours, the passenger will not be entitled to compensation. The delay that is inherent in the operation of the air carrier must be over three hours for the passenger to be entitled to compensation. Particularly, for flights over 3,500km, if the delay is between three to four hours, the air carrier is entitled to reduce the compensation by fifty percent.

And so, if you have experienced a delay in arrival of three hours or more, check the country’s statute of limitations and the relevant air carrier for eligibility for compensation.

In this week’s Smart Travel Quiz, what and how long is the longest commercial passenger route and who is the operating carrier?

Interestingly on the occasion of a flight delay, the regulation does not oblige the air carrier to reroute the passenger to reduce their delay. Logistically, that would involve offloading the passenger, finding their baggage and offloading them and where there is more than one passenger this will only increase the delay to the flight, which will likely miss the assigned Air Traffic Control slot for departure. However, if a passenger elects to be offloaded from the flight and travel on an alternative flight, they are entitled to do so. But will they be entitled to compensation? No, compensation for a delayed flight is only payable to passengers who travelled on the delayed flight and arrived at the final destination with a delay of three hours or more.

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