Court orders compensation payable where airline refuses to board passenger believing they would not make the flight

Our Client was travelling from the Philippines to London via Hong Kong. Our Client’s first flight was with Cathay Pacific which arrived 41 minutes late into Hong Kong. Our Client proceeded to the gate to take her next flight with Virgin Atlantic however on arrival at the gate she was shocked to learn that she was not able to board her connecting flight despite the fact that passengers were still boarding. Excuses were given to our Client who was told that the flight had been oversold so there was no seat available.

Our Client instructed Hayward Baker to bring a claim for compensation for denied boarding against Virgin Atlantic. The airline instructed solicitors to defend the claim arguing that it was the first flight that actually caused our Client to miss her flight and that she was not denied boarding.

At a full hearing in Southampton the Judge agreed with the passenger that she should be entitled to compensation and followed the binding decision from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of Cachaferio and Anor v Iberia, C321/11 which the Judge held was on “all fours” with this case and ordered compensation to be paid of £260.54.

In Cachaferio the airline removed passengers from a flight due to a slight delay with their preceding flight in the mistaken belief that they would not make their connecting flight. When they passengers turned up to the gate in time to board the airline had sold their seats so they could not board. The ECJ held that this was denied boarding and passengers were entitled to seek relief from the airline under EU Regulation 261/2004 which is a Regulation designed to provide consumer protection to passengers.

Samuel Dorne, a Director at Hayward Baker says:

“Unfortunately this is all too common occurrence. Having spoken to people in the airline industry and having dealt with a number of these cases it is an all too common occurrence for passengers to be removed from connecting flights where there is a slight delay to the first flight so that the airline can try and resell the ticket. When passengers still manage to make it to the gate in time this inevitably leads to a lot of frustration. Imagine watching your flight depart without you through no fault of your own! The European Court of Justice has made it clear that if this occurs then passengers are entitled to compensation. Moreover passengers should be compensated by the airline then and there for cases of denied boarding. It is our experience that this almost never happens in these types of cases. Despite the Court rulings in favour of the consumers the airlines still refuse to make payment and defend a lot of these cases all the way through to trial”.

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Court orders compensation payable where airline refuses to board passenger believing they would not make the flight
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