I booked a Berlin-Belgrade-Abu Dhabi-Sydney flight with Ethihad and due to a technical issue with the aircraft we didn’t fly out of Abu Dhabi until 13h later than scheduled.

The flight route (and ticket) originated in Europe, but the delayed flight leg did not. Am I due compensation under EU 261/2004?

  • Possible duplicate of travel.stackexchange.com/questions/89471/… – JonathanReez Dec 20 '17 at 21:33
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    Not quite, that question refers specifically to flights within Europe. My question was more oriented to a journey that starts in Europe, with all but the first leg (and the delayed leg) originating and terminating outside Europe. – Robert Atkins Dec 21 '17 at 3:43
  • Response from Ethihad to my email claiming €600 for my 13h delayed flight, and the reason for my original question: “Please allow me to explain that the Regulation EC261/2004 does not apply to delays/cancellations of flights outside of the European Union. This means unless there is a qualifying delay at an EU airport, EU 261 will not apply as we are a non-European carrier. In the circumstances, therefore, we are unable to consider your request for compensation under Regulation (EC) 261/2004.”—are they right or not? – Robert Atkins Dec 22 '17 at 11:24

As stated even on the web page you are linking to: Yes.

In October 2017, a EU Court of Appeal confirmed the UK CAA's interpretation that the final destination must be included in the total delay. This means that, if the passenger misses a connection outside the EU and ends up with a delay longer than the times indicated above, even if the delay on the flight leaving the EU was inferior to the aforementioned times, the total delay will be used and not only the delay on leaving the EU.

Relevant for the calculation of compensation is the delay on your final destination (the last stop on a multi-leg ticket).

There have been some disputes around this, since the wording in the regulation is not quite clear on this matter and several airlines have lately refused to pay compensation in such situations. In the latest relevant court verdict from October 2017, the UK Court of Appeal ruled however in two cases against Emirates that this is the correct interpretation of the regulation. There has previously been proceedings in other EU countries, where the courts have come to the same conclusion.

On 31 May 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled in Wegener v Royal Air Maroc, EU:C:2018:361, concluding:

the regulation applies to a passenger transport effected under a single booking and comprising, between its departure from an airport situated in the territory of a Member State and its arrival at an airport situated in the territory of a third State, a scheduled stopover outside the European Union with a change of aircraft.

It can't be much clearer than this that delays incurred at or after such a stopover are also covered by the regulation. (In Wegener's case, the ultimate cause of the passenger's delay happened at the EU airport -- but the court's reasoning does not even refer to this fact, and the conclusion is simply that the entire booking is covered by the regulation).

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    Could you link to the Emirates court case? – JonathanReez Dec 20 '17 at 21:49
  • Can you blockquote the relevant part of the Wikipedia page? I can’t find it. – Robert Atkins Dec 21 '17 at 3:44
  • @JonathanReez I am not sure if the ruling has been published yet. I have linked to the UK CAA press release on the verdict. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 21 '17 at 8:01
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Are you sure the court case you mentioned applies? The cited paragraph seems to describe a situation which is quite different from what OP experienced (small delay at first / early leg causing missed connection and consequently long delay at destination vs. long delay due to technical problems in last leg). – Sabine Dec 21 '17 at 15:36
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    @Sabine The situation is different, but the conclusion applies. Relevant for the calculation is the delay at the final destination and the regulation also applies to legs flown outside the EEA, as long as the journey (all separate legs on one ticket) started within the EEA. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 21 '17 at 16:32

After much back-and-forth with Etihad themselves, and putting my case in the hands of one of the companies whose business is persecuting 261/2004 claims on behalf of passengers, it seems I am NOT due any compensation.

I believe the matter rests on the fact all delays occurred wholly outside the EU, on a non-EU carrier. If a delay had happened inside the EU (or possibly on an EU carrier) that had led to a cascading sequence of circumstances leading to me arriving > 4h late I would have been eligible. But since neither of those apply, I'm not eligible.

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    You do realise that those companies that fight for you basically do the minimum amount of work possible, right? There isn't a team of lawyers on hand waiting to fight your case to every possible end... In this case, there is already a successful UK and EU ruling on the matter, but they are probably not binding and thus would require another court case to move forward. – Moo Mar 12 '18 at 20:12
  • I've contacted the airline themselves, the German ombudsman (the one charged with enforcing EU261/2004) and this company. What do you suggest I do next? Re-reading the ruling linked in @Tor-Einar's answer above, it's still ambiguous as to whether it applies or not: "The ruling means passengers of non-EU airlines, who had experienced a delay on the first leg of a flight..." (emphasis mine) – Robert Atkins Mar 12 '18 at 20:22
  • The airline isnt going to fight your corner, and when you talk about the "German ombudsman", who are you talking about specifically? I find it odd that the UK CAA and EU courts came to a different conclusion in multiple court cases. – Moo Mar 12 '18 at 20:30
  • The Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, who are listed as the "Enforcement body" for Germany, here: europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/national-contact-points/germany/… – Robert Atkins Mar 12 '18 at 20:45
  • I think you've been fobbed off - Im not surprised by the claims company, as they arent going to put any more effort in than submitting your claim, but the regulatory body...? – Moo Mar 12 '18 at 21:33

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