/ Money, Travel & Leisure

What’s the most extraordinary excuse you’ve heard?

No more excuses

Delayed flight? Airlines often refer to ‘technical problems’ to avoid paying compensation, but a new ruling may put a stop to that. What’s the worst excuse you’ve heard from a company?

There was a success for consumer rights this week. The European Court of Justice ruled that ‘a technical problem’ isn’t an extraordinary circumstance that airlines can use as a valid defence against paying flight delay compensation.

If Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) had won the case, millions of airline passengers across Europe may not have been able to claim compensation for delays. There was also a similar ruling by the Supreme Court last year against Jet2.

And then, something else yesterday. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority announced that it’s taking legal action against Ryanair due to the airline’s policies on compensation.

The CAA doesn’t think Ryanair complies with European consumer law after reportedly not paying proper compensation for delays caused by technical faults and trying to put a two-year time limit on paying out (you have six years). Ryanair responded by saying it ‘fully complies’ with the rules.

Are you claiming your compensation?

If you bought tickets for the theatre, only for the show to take place four hours later than advertised – and you had to spend those four hours waiting in the foyer picking at a complimentary packet of popcorn – you’d expect your money back. At the very least.

Earlier this year we found that around 900,000 passengers could be entitled to claim after analysing data for 1.7m flights over the past year.

In fact, only four in 10 people who were delayed actually claimed compensation. That means passengers could be missing out on millions of pounds they’re entitled to.

So we created an easy-to-use tool you can use to start your free claim for flight delay compensation.

Will flights cost more?

Airlines have been fighting tooth and nail to limit when passengers are entitled to claim compensation – often arguing that the extra expense of paying compensation will be passed on to consumers.

But, a report published by the European Commission in May last year casts a shadow over that argument. It found that if airlines increased ticket prices to cover their compensation costs (including providing food, free accommodation), there would only be an increase of between €1 and €3 per one-way ticket (approximately 73p to £2.19).

What ‘extraordinary excuses’ have you heard?

The only defence an airline has against paying compensation is when the delay was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as poor weather, natural disaster or industrial action. Which is fair enough.

Now that the European Court of Justice has ruled that technical issues are not classed as extraordinary circumstances, where next for airlines?

If you’re delayed will you be claiming your compensation? Have you ever been fobbed off with any extraordinary excuses?

Useful links

Use our flight delays tool to claim compensation

Profile photo of NFH

Make sure that, when an airline does agree to pay compensation under EU261/2004, they don’t use an off-market exchange rate in their favour to convert from the round statutory EUR amount to a GBP amount. Check the live rate at http://www.truefx.com. Even better, find a friend with a EUR bank account who can receive the compensation for you and then withdraw EUR cash (or transfer to a Revolut card) for you to spend during your next trip to the Eurozone.

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We are so lucky to have a Forex specialist on this site advising us on how to optimise our currency exchanges.

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Do the CAA have a list of all flights that have been delayed where compensation is applicable ? If not, why not. It would sort all this nonsense out.

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Good point William. Whilst one would like to trust the airlines ot be honest in the matter there exists an element of doubt.

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If airlines do end up having to pay out more by way of compensation, then I would expect to see the costs passed on to passengers by way of fare increases.

This may also result in a competitive advantage for more punctual airlines, because their fares may not have to rise as much as those of their less efficient competitors.

Personally, I’d sooner arrive later (in safety) than earlier (on equipment that has been rushed into service to avoid financial penalties). I really don’t want to see airlines cutting corners on maintenance just to avoid financial penalties .

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How many people know that the arrival time is defined as the instant when the door is opened to allow passengers to exit? I recently was on a flight which touched down two hours and fiftythree minutes late. It seems unlikely that, after taxiing and attaching the air bridge, we were still under three hours. However, as I was then unaware of the rule definition I did not check the door opening time. I wonder if there is any way of finding out?


Hello – did you ever find this out please? I’m in a similar position. Refused comp as apparently “only” 2 hours 56 mins late… I despute this but have no way of finding out…

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From Bristol to Faro, 3 hours late excuse ‘the pilot did not turn up’ had to fly another in from Belfast.

Sue says:
28 April 2016

Our flight to Bucharest was delayed by 7 hours 15 mins. We had passed through Boarding and the plane was on the runway with the luggage ready to be loaded when we were told to return to the Departure Lounge. No information was given except to keep checking the departure board. It was rumoured a tyre had been damaged on landing but no-one was able to give any information. When we were eventually called to Board, passengers were handed a sheet of paper which we understood to be information on how to make a claim for compensation but they ran out and told us to ask when we arrived at Bucharest. On arrival no-one seemed to know what we were talking about and likewise on our return, so we never received this communication. We have been refused compensation by Blue Air who have given various reasons ranging from “a bird strike” to “despite the anticipated delay the passengers used our services”.

Jayne Dunn says:
13 May 2016

I was two days later getting home and had to go via another country and stay overnight in another country. This was due to “industrial action” – NO OTHER AIRLINES had a problem sorting out their passengers and rescheduling flights – RYANAIR chose to cancel flights and leave passengers stranded abroad to queue for 12 hours to obtain a rescheduled flight for next day to another country and the day after that to our home airport. I’ve been informed that the French air traffic control industrial action was not unexpected. In my view this is not deemed as extroadinary circumstances. In any event Ryanair have refused compensation and have not paid my loss of wages for two days loss of work nor have they refunded my seat allocation payment I made for my original flight that was cancelled. Ryanair had no consideration whatsoever for their stranded passengers in Alicante Airport in March, no one gave us any direction as to what to do and all phone lines to Ryanair, internet chat live and online booking to reschedule ourselves were all NOT WORKING. not happy with Ryanair.

sonia rudd says:
8 August 2016

We recently flew with Easy jet from Munich flight EZY5386. The flight was delayed by over 12 hours and they are refusing compensation. They are saying that this qualifies as ‘extraordinary’under EC Regulation 261/2004 as the disruption was caused by ‘ATC slot restrictions’. It feels like a bit of a cop out. Does anyone know if there have been on any court rulings along these lines?


Just had ‘changing the captains chair’ as an excuse in Rome for a 2 hour delay from Alitalia. Absolutely ridiculous.

Robin PARKER says:
14 November 2016

Been trying to claim from easyjet for over two months for my wife and I. The last contact (They have never returned a single call) They stated the flight was only 2 hours 20 mins late according to their records which is a total lie. It seems to be a case of making it as difficult as possible and hope we give up!

Tony Green says:
21 January 2017

We had a delay of over 4 hours flying to Venice with Monarch last September, and we claimed. The airlines check in system had failed earlier in the day and so they had run the remaining flights late. Our claim was refused, but we pushed and got a barely understandable reply as to how to proceed (it went to great lengths describing an arbitration scheme only to add at the end that Monarch did not subscribe to the scheme). Eventually we were referred to the CAA who investigated. Monarch ignored them and gave no reply. On the basis our claim the CAA found in our favor, but it appears have no powers. Now it is small claims court or give up.

The delayed flight had arrived in the early hours of the morning after Venice airport closed, so no taxi’s, water taxi’s and no car hire. No one from Monarch to help, we ended up walking around until we found an hotel. So we are going to fight on!

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I’ve been trying for 9 months to claim €800 from Small Planet Airlines (Lithuania) for two of us delayed 9 hours on a flight from Greece. They eventually did agree to pay €600 “within 13 weeks” – that date expired on 9th of June but, of course, they haven’t paid a single cent and have stopped answering any calls or emails. I also contacted their CEO (Krisijonas Kaikiras through Linkd-in), a man who blows his trumpet about being a Lithuanian business mogul but chooses to ignore his airline’s legal obligations. To take them to court is going to cost me hundreds of pounds. This EU Directive 261/2004 appears to hold no fears whatsoever for the airlines…..

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Salvador 2 years ago the most complained about airline flying from Britain ( proportionally ) was Small Planet Airlines – tops the list- 1,805 (2015 ) /million passengers also featured on BBC Watchdog — CAA largest number of complaints involving all major UK airlines and major foreign ones – 3,140 /million -Small Planet Airlines . The Holding company is Small Planet Group /Avia Solutions Group hold shares in it. They are not very forthcoming with info although a website has his email address but you have to pay for it.


I have a Claim with Easyjet who have confirmed that they will pay us, however they keep making excuses , asking for bank details which are submitted with the claim. Feel they are just trying to avoid paying the money in the hope that l will just go away . I am also concerned that they have lost private information. they say they have to wait 21 days for an answer from their Finance team . ?? Also concerned they have lost our bank details. so cross.