A test case that will further set out the law on passengers’ claims against airlines has been transferred to the Court of Appeal.
His Honour Judge Wood QC, sitting at Liverpool Civil Justice Centre, said there were conflicting existing judgments on the issue of delays caused by missed connections.
The test case, Miss Gahan v Emirates, concerns a passenger booked to travel with the airline from Manchester to Bangkok via Dubai.
After arriving in Dubai four hours late, Gahan then had to catch a later connecting flight which arrived in Thailand 13 hours and 37 minutes later than scheduled.
The case would ordinarily entitle a passenger to 600 euros compensation, but Emirates denies any responsibility for the delay to the second leg of Gahan’s journey, arguing that because both locations are outside the EU, the airline has no liability for the second leg.
Mark Walker, from Bury firm Hughes Walker, said the appeal court decision will affect thousands of passengers flying with non-EU airlines who miss connecting flights due to a delayed flight which departed from an airport located in the EU, provided the passenger booked their flights as part of a single journey.
‘There is now every prospect that litigants and district judges will, at long last, get a definitive ruling on what has proven to be a vexed issue,’ added Walker.
Granting permission to appeal, HHJ Wood said it was clear the connecting flight issue has been the subject of conflicting decisions at first instance.
He added: ‘A further decision, even on appeal at circuit judge level, is unlikely to resolve this issue, and the authority of the Court of Appeal is required. The appeal has a real prospect of success and the threshold test for the granting of permission is satisfied.’
Court judgments in recent years have given more clarity to the issue of flight compensation and what passengers should be able to claim for.
Last year a judge ruled that passengers should have six years to claim compensation for a delayed flight.
In 2014, the Supreme Court opened the way to a wave of claims against airlines by refusing applications to appeal in two delay compensation cases.