The Consumer Lawyer

My flight was delayed due to the runway melting – Can I claim compensation?

London Luton England United Kingdom Airport Highway Road Sign

During last week’s heatwave, Luton Airport suspended all of its flights for a period of time after the tarmac on the runway melted in boiling temperatures. This caused delays with some of the most popular airlines, including EasyJet, Wizz Air, Ryanair and TUI, and resulted in a flurry of messages in my inbox all asking the same question – “Can we claim compensation”? Here’s what you need to know:

When a flight is cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice prior to departure, you will be entitled to compensation, unless the reason for the cancellation falls within the definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Extraordinary circumstances is an event that: i) is outside of the airline’s control (like severe bad weather and security alerts); ii) is not inherent in the normal operation of the airline (by way of example, mechanical faults do not fall within the definition); and iii) could not have been avoided by the airline taking reasonable steps.

Airport closures and limits

Sometimes, flight delays and cancellations are caused by the airport, which is what recently happened at Luton Airport, and is also the current situation at Heathrow, where it announced daily passenger limits with a capping of the number of daily passengers going through the airport to 100,000.

Where a flight is cancelled or delayed due to airport closure or limitations, this is clearly outside of the airline’s control, is not inherent in the normal operation of the aircraft, and there are no steps the airline could have taken to prevent the airline’s actions.

So, if your flight was cancelled or delayed due to the melting runway at Luton, you will not be entitled to compensation. However, you should ask for evidence to substantiate this was the real reason for the cancellation or delay.

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