Thomas Cook ordered to pay £827 over delays caused by a passenger

  • Thomas Cook has been told to pay Maria Edwards by a Birmingham Court
  • Edwards family were delayed 9 hours after a passenger damaged the plane
  • Airlines did not previously have to pay for delays caused by passengers 

Holidaymakers who suffer delays to their journey as a result of other passengers may now be able to claim compensation following a landmark court ruling.

Travel company Thomas Cook has been ordered by Birmingham County Court to pay £827 to Maria Edwards and her family following a nine-hour delay to their return flight from Tunisia to the UK in 2013.

Until now, airlines do not have to pay compensations for delays caused by passengers as it's classed as 'extraordinary circumstances' under current EU regulations.

Thomas Cook has been told to pay Maria Edwards by a Birmingham Court after her family was delayed for over nine hours on a flight in 2013

Thomas Cook has been told to pay Maria Edwards by a Birmingham Court after her family was delayed for over nine hours on a flight in 2013

Mrs Edwards, 47, brought the case against Thomas Cook in August 2014, a year after the delayed flights.

The family spent two weeks in Port El Kantaoui in Tunisia but were delayed at Enfidha Airport during their return journey.

A passenger on a previous flight had accidentally broken an emergency door handle and new parts had to be flown in from France for the repair. 

However, when the maintenance crew tried to fix the handle, they deployed the emergency slide by accident, causing further delays to the journey.

Landmark ruling could mean more families will be able to claim for flight delays caused by other passengers

Landmark ruling could mean more families will be able to claim for flight delays caused by other passengers

The passengers were eventually allowed to board the plane after more than nine hours waiting in the lounge. 

Mrs Edwards told Herald Scotland: 'We were initially told by Thomas Cook that there would be a one and a half hour delay to our flight, but when we actually boarded we had been waiting more than nine hours.'

Claim4Flights, who did not represent the Edwards family, said in a statement: 'Whilst this ruling does not affect other court cases, it is indicative that some County Court judges are really getting to grips with the implications of Regulation EC261/2004. 

'Whilst the wording of the Regulation is not clear on specific examples such as this, the principles are fairly clear but don't always appear to be followed in County Courts.' 

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to up to £460 in compensation when their flight lands at their destination more than three hours late or if they are cancelled.

At the moment airlines do not have to pay for delays caused by other passengers as it's considered an 'extraordinary circumstance'

At the moment airlines do not have to pay for delays caused by other passengers as it's considered an 'extraordinary circumstance'

The regulation applies to any EU-based airline or flights into the EU. 

However, airlines can refuse to pay the compensation in 'extraordinary circumstances' such as severe weather although they still have a duty of care to their passengers. 

Thomas Cook has maintained their position that delays caused by passengers should be considered as an 'extraordinary' circumstance.

A spokesman from Thomas Cook Airlines told MailOnline Travel: 'We're always extremely sorry for any delay and our main focus is on getting our passengers to and from holiday on time. In just three years our long delays have dropped from four percent to less than one percent making us one of the highest performing airlines in the industry. 

'The claim of a landmark ruling lacks credibility because County Court judgments cannot create legal precedents. We do not believe a comparison can be made between unintentional passenger damage and disruptive passenger claims. 

'We have recently successfully defended cases of a similar nature where district judges have ruled that passenger damage is an extraordinary circumstance. We have also successfully defended cases of disruptive passengers.' 

Thomas Cook still has an opportunity to appeal the decision, which the company is currently considering.

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