English Air Law Case: Denied Boarding Regulations

Parker v TUI UK Ltd (Trading as Austravel) 30 October 2006 P had booked a flight from Heathrow to Sydney with TUI trading as Thomsonfly. P claimed that she had been informed by them that she was booked on a scheduled flight with Qantas. On later discovering that she was in fact booked on a chartered flight she paid to be upgraded to “premium economy” at a cost of £325 (€374/$496). On arrival at Sydney airport, she was told that her return flight was delayed by 24 hours due to mechanical failure. In accordance with the EU Regulation of 2004, she was offered overnight accommodation, free transport to and from the airport, free meals and free telephone calls. She refused these, preferring to stay at a friend’s house in Sydney. She was subsequently told that the return flight would in fact delayed by 49 hours. After the initial 24 hour period expired, and having unsuccessfully tried to contact the defendant, she booked an alternative flight home to Gatwick with Qantas. TUI refunded the cost of the delayed flight to Heathrow in accordance with the Regulations. C claimed the cost of the upgrade, taxis to and from her friend’s house in Sydney, the taxi from Gatwick to Heathrow and £500 (€576/$763) for loss of enjoyment. She also claimed that she had not been provided with the notice of her rights under the Denied Boarding Regulations.The court held that the Regulations did not permit a free standing Private Law cause of action. Instead, it provided a Public Law remedy to enforce the rights set out in the Regulations. C could report breaches of the Regulations to the CAA. TUI had reimbursed her for the cost of the flight not made and had met their obligations in respect of accommodation, meals, telephone calls etc. The contract was a contract of carriage, not a contract for a holiday. It was not therefore a contract for enjoyment and therefore the claim for loss of enjoyment failed. The contract was governed by the Carriage by Air Acts, implementing the Montreal Convention, and thus no alternative common law remedy was available.

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