Passengers win compensation from Emirates on the court of law

I’ve got this Press Release yesterday. I don’t usually publish passenger-related stories. Nevertheless, I found this story interesting and very informative.

Passengers win compensation from Emirates for marathon flight delay following two-year battle


  • Passengers on Emirates flight endured 23-hour flight delay
  • Airline tried to exploit ‘extraordinary circumstance’ loophole
  • Two-year battle for compensation
  • Case study in how airlines try to avoid compensation pay-outs


POTSDAM, Germany and PALO ALTO, Calif. – 28 April, 2016 – The process of claiming compensation for flight delays is not for the faint-hearted, as two Australian passengers have discovered. When Brett and Lisa Smith’s flight from Milan to New York was delayed more than 23 hours, they thought that their case for compensation under European Union legislation would be a simple matter. They were wrong.


Under EU 261/2004 compensation rules, passengers whose flight is cancelled or arrives more than three hours late can claim up to €600 (£473) depending on the distance of the flight. The compensation rules apply to flights departing from any EU airport (including Iceland, Norway or Switzerland) or arriving in the EU with an EU carrier.


The couple, booked on flight EK 205 from Milan Malpensa to New York (JFK) in April, 2014 experienced a long ‘creeping delay’. After check-in, they were advised the flight would be delayed by three hours or so. After finally boarding, passengers were told that the engine technical issue could not be fixed after all, and a part needed to be flown in from Dubai the following day.


Passengers were deplaned, returned through immigration, collected their bags, and transported to a hotel. Nearly 24 hours later, the exhausted passengers were finally on their way to New York.                         


The couple lost a day of their holiday, along with the cost of one night’s hotel accommodation, theatre tickets and dinner reservation, all of which was pre-booked, pre-paid, and non-refundable.


Ignoring the rules


Airlines are expected to inform passengers of their right to compensation in the event of lengthy delays. An estimated 11 million people per year in Europe alone are eligible to claim for €6 billion in compensation for flight disruptions under European Union (EC) 261 legislation. At no point during the 23-hour saga were the Smiths advised that they were eligible for compensation.


When Mr Smith, a frequent Emirates flyer, later contacted the airline, Emirates rejected the claim. The airline stated that the matter had been investigated by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, and ENAC had ruled that the delay was due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and Emirates was therefore not obliged to pay compensation.


When Emirates provided no evidence of either the investigation or ruling, Mr Smith decided to contact the air passenger rights company (name of the company is known to the administrator of this blog) that advocates for travellers.


Mr Smith says: “I’m pretty relaxed about delays due to safety issues; these things happen. But I’m surprised and annoyed that the airline claimed there was an investigation and ruling to justify not paying out, when there doesn’t appear to have been either.”


‘Extraordinary circumstances’ – what counts?


Airlines can only legally sidestep compensation claims if a flight disruption is due to extraordinary circumstances beyond an airline’s control; events that ‘could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken’. These include bad weather, security issues, industrial action, and hidden manufacturing defects.


Airlines often try to avoid compensation pay-outs for aircraft technical failures, arguing that this also falls under extraordinary circumstances, but a recent European Court of Justice ruling (Corina van der Lans v KLM) rejected this argument.


It took two years, countless emails, forms, document submissions, and ultimately an investigation and ruling from the appropriate local ENAC Directorate to secure full compensation of €600 each for the Smiths.


“This case illustrates just how far airlines will go in an attempt to fob off passengers,” says Eve Büchner, Founder and CEO of the air passenger rights company. “The majority of passengers either don’t know their rights, or do not have the time, nerve or money to jump through the endless hurdles airlines put up in an attempt to force passengers to abandon their case.”


“It’s absolutely impossible for an individual who has no knowledge of the law and no experience of dealing with the claim process to get compensation,” said Mr Smith­­. “Which, of course, is what the airlines want. The airlines are happy to brush off customers with an array of excuses and push passengers to the point where they are forced to go to court. An impossible situation if you have to travel to another country to do so.”


16 responses to “Passengers win compensation from Emirates on the court of law

  • Anonymous

    “If you don’t stand up for your rights, then you get squashed. So sometimes people need to stand up and, if it’s for a right cause, then there is no problem. We just have to understand,” said Oliver Munich, a traveller from South Africa.

    Liked by 1 person

  • tagha1

    Well, the last two paragraphs explain everything, passengers, staff, employees…etc don’t know the rules and don’t know their rights. I’m impressed that it took 2 years as other cases, won’t take that long because everything is clear and documented according to company rules however, I should say that money plays an important factor of reaching the court as not everyone has it to start the claim. This is well known for all and EK would challenge anyone by saying “If you don’t like it, go to court”!!


  • tagha1

    Thanks a lot, I will give it a try as my story is published here…I will definitely hire them if I have same!


  • Anonymous

    No justice in the Arab World. Welcome to Dubai. Keep Discovering


    • tagha1

      Justice is everywhere but you have to search for it and search for the right one to claim it and above all, you have to have enough money and patience….this is obvious and in every country my friend!


  • Anonymous

    Heard that EK files terrorists wanted by Interpol. EK flews Dawood Ibrahim DXB to Islamabad regularly inspite of knowing he is an international gangster and mastermind wanted in Mumbai bomb blast. The Govt of India has signed an undertakening with the UAE govt to deal with such terrorists and help India to get them back to Indian soil to be tried in Indian courts. When EK files terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim knowing fully well he is wanted by the US, India and other nations, the airline is directly supporting such terrorists. They say that Dawood has some connect with Emirates and the airline management. How true this could be, well the Airline management knows otherwise it would not fly a terrorist.


  • Anonymous

    Indian media cannot be wrong.If this is out int he newspapers and TV news channels, then EK should worry about it.


    • tagha1

      With all my respect, this is nothing…I mean, the links don’t say that he -personally- traveled on EK flights however, the links said that his family did…and his family members are not WANTED by the Interpol or any other country or courts that means, they will still be accepted as passengers on board EK. There are many international flights that use Dubai Airport other than EK and EK would never put itself in same situation as per my knowledge and experience. EK has its own Security Department and believe me, they are professional enough to sniff a “Terrorist” before leaving home to the airport. They always get a “fresh” information almost everyday from The Central Intelligence Department (CID) and action accordingly even though, this is not an airline job, this is a state job but, EK works shoulder to shoulder with officials concerning safety.

      In addition, lot of our colleagues from EK Security staff at the airport or”Men In Black” as we used to call them, they are Indians and for sure, they know Mr Ibrahim story…his family…features..they simply know everything about him even before they joined so, I am 100% that this didn’t happen even the links (above) didn’t mention that and all what said that he is in Pakistan.


  • Merlin Mary


    TICKET NUMBER – 176-2282217682

    SKYWARDS NUMBER – 505965983

    This is to inform you that i had a really bad experience with emirates. EK 848 was half an hour late and I missed EK161 on 10.9.2016. I couldnt join for work on that night because I had to wait 8hrs for the next flight. So I lost 240 euros. I should get it compensated.I was badly treated in Dubai airport. Doha flight landed at 6.30am. The bus which took the passengers made things delayed. We could reach the arrival spot only at 6.58am. Gate closed at 6.55am. They didnt give me hotel accomodation which they promised to to give me when i met them at the Connections desk to collect the new boarding pass. I easily fell asleep in the restaurant(terminal 3, Mezzanine) to which i received the food coupon because i was really tired by the time. After half an hour one of the waiter told that “mam, you can’t sleep here.” I was really upset. The time was only 9.30am. I left the restaurant and went to the Connections desk once more. She said i need to have visa to go to the hotel. I stepped back and went to the lounge. The WORST part is each time while i went to the Connections desk i had to pass a baggage clearance queue and body checking.3 times since arrival. At the end i became physically unwell. I started vomiting due to lack of sleep.



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