When a flight is delayed or cancelled, passengers get a compensatory payment, according to the European air passenger rights regulation. Only exception: extraordinary circumstances. Those include, as the German Federal Court of Justice now decided, technical problems on the airport.
Computer breakdown in New York
In this concrete case, two consumers had booked a flight at British Airways from New York via London to Stuttgart. On the airport in New York, all computer systems at the counters of one terminal crashed. This caused massive delays. The passengers missed their connecting flight in London and eventually landed nine hours later than planned in Stuttgart. The consumers then claimed compensation from British Airways.
The airline refused the payment, based on the argument of extraordinary circumstances. This view was now confirmed by the German Federal Court of Justice. The technical problems at the New Yorker airport could only be solved after more than 13 hours, due to a strike at the company in charge. British Airways was neither responsible for the situation, nor able to prevent it. Therefore, the airline was not obliged to pay compensation to its passengers.
Find out more about your rights as an air passenger in our article.