Home News & Events TRAVEL LAW NEWS: ECJ Judgments on Denied Boarding

TRAVEL LAW NEWS: ECJ Judgments on Denied Boarding

Monday, 08 October 2012 11:54

On Oct. 4, 2012, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) published two judgments relative to denied boarding cases. In both judgments, the ECJ held that the concept of ‘denied boarding’ pursuant to Reg. (EC) 261/2004 relates not only to cases of overbooking but also to other grounds, such as for operational reasons.

The first case (C-22/11) concerned an industrial strike at Barcelona Airport on July 28, 2006, which led to the cancellation of a Finnair flight scheduled for that day. In order that the passengers on that flight would not have to wait too long, Finnair decided to reschedule subsequent flights. The plaintiff, Mr Lassooy, had bought a ticket for the 11.40 flight on 30 July 2006 and had duly presented himself for boarding, but only went to Helsinki on a special additional 21.40 flight later on that day.

The Court argued that the occurrence of extraordinary circumstances, such as an industrial strike, leading to subsequent flights of a carrier to be rescheduled, does not hold sufficient grounds for denying boarding or for exempting that carrier from its obligation to compensate passengers denied boarding on those subsequent flights.

In the second case (C-321/11), the plaintiffs had both purchased airline tickets from carrier Iberia for a journey from Corunna (Spain) to Madrid (also in Spain) and from there on to Santo Domingo (Domenican Republic) on a second flight. The first flight was delayed by 1 hour and 25 minutes. In anticipation that the delay would result in the two passengers missing their connection in Madrid, Iberia cancelled their boarding cards for the second flight. When they presented themselves for boarding in Madrid, Iberia did not allow them to board since their boarding cards had been cancelled and their seats allocated to other passengers. They had to wait until the following day to be taken to Santo Domingo on another flight and indeed, reached their final destination 27 hours late.

The Court considered that such a denial of boarding was solely attributable to the carrier. Either that carrier caused the delay to the first flight operated by it, mistakenly considered that the passengers concerned would not be able to present themselves in time to board the following flight or sold tickets for successive flights for which the transfer time was insufficient.

Source: ECJ press relases 124/12 [1] and 125/12 [2] of 4 October, 2012 as authored by Dr Michael Wukoschitz on IFTTA website.

For Reading: http://iftta.org/content/european-court-justice-decides-two-denied-boarding-cases