Claiming for delayed flights easier under new French law

The Cour de cassation has given a new ruling to help travellers in France get reimbursed for late and cancelled flights

3 December 2020
By Joanna York

French court the Cour de cassation has ruled that customers who wish to claim refunds for delayed or cancelled flights no longer have to prove they were in the airport at the time of boarding.  

The ruling is expected to help travellers claim compensation for past flights, including travellers whose flights were cancelled or delayed as a result of the Covid-19 health crisis this year. 

Proof of presence no longer needed

The change will replace a law that has been in effect since February 2018, following a ruling against a family that had experienced a five-hour flight delay. 

The family could only provide an electronic copy of their flight reservation as documentation, which was not deemed sufficient proof that they spent five hours waiting in the airport. They were instead asked to provide luggage tags or boarding cards. 

But, many boarding passes have now been digitised and some travellers fly without hold luggage meaning providing such documentation is not always possible. Consequently, some airlines have used this loophole to deny refunds for late and cancelled flights to customers who should be eligible for them.

The ruling from the Cour de cassation aims to put an end to this. The European Court of Justice also made a similar ruling on the matter in October 2019.

From now on the onus is on the airline company to prove that passengers were not in the airport at the original boarding time. They could do this by proving that the passenger in question was moved onto another flight, or that they did not present themselves at the gate when boarding opened. 

Passenger now eligible for compensation

The case being studied by the Cour de cassation was that of an EasyJet passenger who had experienced a delay of over four hours on a return flight from Bordeaux to Lisbon. 

The passenger did not have the documentation previously necessary to prove their presence in the airport during this delay and had spent five years wrangling over the issue with the airline. EasyJet must now prove that the passenger did not take the delayed flight, or provide compensation.

Passengers are eligible for compensation of €250–600 for delays of over three hours.

Related stories 

France's train and plane services to increase over Christmas

French airline head supports Covid 'travel passes'

Will French airlines demand passengers get Covid vaccine?

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