Extraordinary circumstances

What does extraordinary circumstances mean?

Jack and two colleagues were delayed six hours on their flight from Hamburg to Manchester, due to heavy fog in Hamburg. Bad weather is an extraordinary circumstance which exempts the airline from paying compensation for delay.

The rules for flight delays and cancellations may seem simple on the surface, but, unfortunately, claims are not always straightforward. Sometimes, flight delays are caused by extraordinary circumstances, also known as force majeure. In such cases, EU regulation 261/2004 states that the airline is not obligated to pay compensation to the air passengers whose flight is delayed.

But what does it mean, when an airline rejects a compensation claim due to an extraordinary circumstance? And in which cases does it apply? Continue reading to discover why you can't always claim compensation despite the fact that you've experienced a long flight delay or a flight cancellation.

Extraordinary circumstances defined

Sometimes, the airlines reject claims for compensation stating that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

The term, "extraordinary circumstances", describes any set of conditions or events, preventing a flight from departing on time that are not within the control of the airline. This means that the airline could not have prevented the flight disruption, despite taking all reasonable measures. The list of extraordinary circumstances as defined in regulation EC 261/2004 includes:

  • Bad weather conditions
  • Natural disasters
  • Strikes by a third party, e.g. airport personnel
  • Political instability
  • Security risks
  • Restrictions from air traffic control, e.g. closing of runway
  • Bird strike (a collision between an airplane and a bird)
  • Hidden manufacturing defects

What circumstances are not extraordinary?

We often experience that airlines wrongfully reject claims for flight delay compensation due to extraordinary circumstances. Therefore, it is important to be aware of, in what cases, circumstances are not extraordinary. The following examples are not extraordinary circumstances and you would therefore be able to claim compensation for your flight delay or cancellation:

  • Technical issues
  • Sickness among flight crew
  • Strikes by air carrier employees
  • If you are denied boarding due to an overbooked flight

The airline has rejected your claim for compensation, but you disagree - what to do?

It is not uncommon for airlines to use extraordinary circumstances, such as bad weather on a previous flight, as a reason for rejecting a passenger's claim for compensation, even though the real reason was not extraordinary. If the airline refuses to pay your compensation, and you believe that their rejection is unjustified, Myflightrefund.com can help you investigate this. We have access to flight data and statistics and can find out the real cause of a flight delay or cancellation and help you claim your rightful compensation.

If the airline maintains their explanation of exceptional circumstances, the next step for us would be to take your case to the national transport authority or to court. In this case, you can benefit from Myflightrefund.com's services, if you wish to avoid the risk of having to pay court fees and the costs for an attorney. When you use our service, we handle all the work for you, and we charge the same amount (25% + VAT), whether or not we take your case to court.

At Myflightrefund.com, we know which circumstances are extraordinary. We can tell whether you are entitled to compensation, and in cases where the airline gives a reason that is not extraordinary, we will take the case to court.

Do you have a good case? Find out if you’re entitled to a compensation here