German court: Compensation for flight delays or cancellations has limits

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Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled Tuesday that national travel law limits the amount of compensation passengers can receive for delayed or cancelled flights.

Under EU law, passengers may receive up to €600 as a lump sum payment from airlines to compensate them for being unable to board on a booked flight or if their flight is cancelled or delayed by more than three hours.

German law also allows passengers to claim additional compensation for costs incurred as a result of the delay or cancellation.

The BGH said an airline can reject additional compensation claims made under national law if the lump sum already covers those costs. Often these claims related to travelers arriving a day late at their destination and seeking compensation from the airline for costs like an unused night in a hotel room or lost time with a rental car on arrival.

The ruling confirms decisions made by lower-level courts in Frankfurt.

German courts have had to rule in several times on the rights of passengers to claim compensation from airlines in recent years.

The German Aviation Association (BDL) said the legal uncertainty results from the lack of clarity in the wording of the EU’s Air Passenger Rights Regulation.

“We therefore need a revision of the regulation that will provide airlines and their customers with comprehensive legal security,” BDL Managing Director Matthias von Randow told the dpa news agency.

amp/msh (AFP, dpa)

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