European Court of Justice decides in two denied boarding cases

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

On Oct. 4, 2012, the ECJ has published two judgements in denied boarding cases. In both judgements, 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 those concerning other grounds, such as operational reasons.

The first case (C-22/11) concernd a strike at Barcelona Airport on July 28, 2006, which caused the cancellation of a Finnair flight of that day. In order that the passengers on that flight should not have too long a waiting time, Finnair decided to reschedule subsequent flights. The plaintiff, Mr Lassooy, had bought a tickets 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 that day.

The Court stated that the occurrence of extraordinary circumstances – such as a strike – resulting in an air carrier rescheduling subsequent flights does not give grounds for denying boarding or for exempting that carrier from its obligation to compensate passengers denied boarding on those later flights.

In the second case (C-321/11), the plaintiffs had both bought airline tickets from Iberia for the journey from Corunna (Spain) to Madrid and from there on to Santo Domingo on a second flight.The first flight was delayed by 1 hour and 25 minutes. In anticipation that that 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 on the grounds that 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 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 and 125/12 of 4 October, 2012.

Full text of judment C-22/11 available here>>.

Full text of judment C-321/11 available here>>.

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