European Court of Justice: Entitlement to compensation for flight disruption on non-European connecting flights (C-537/17)

septembre 6, 2018


On 31st May 2018 the ECJ ruled that a traveler can claim for compensation under the passenger rights regulation even in the case of flight disruptions on connecting flights that start outside the EU. However, the connecting flight must be part of a single flight with departure airport located in an EU member state.

The case:

The plaintiff booked a flight from Berlin to Agadir with a stopover and transfer in Casablanca (both Morocco). On the connecting flight from Casablanca to Agadir his seat was already taken elsewhere. He had to book a replacement flight and finally reached Agadir four hours later than originally planned.

The plaintiff claimed a compensation under the passenger rights regulation because of the considerable delay in arrival. The airline refused to pay because, in its view, the passenger rights regulation was not applicable because of the intra-Moroccan connecting flight. Entitlement to compensation requires that it is an European departure airport or an European airline en route to the EU.

The District court in Berlin, which is dealing with the case, referred the case to the ECJ with the question of whether a uniform flight exists if the booked flight envisages a scheduled stopover outside the territory of the EU with a change to another aircraft.

Decision of the ECJ:

The ECJ affirmed the existence of a uniform flight. Therefore, the passenger rights regulation also applies to a flight,

  • which is done on the basis of a single booking and
  • between the departure from an EU airport and the arrival at the final destination outside the EU, a scheduled stopover outside the EU with a transfer to another aircraft.

Following the consumer-friendly clarification of the ECJ, compensation claims are also possible for uniformly booked flights, even in the case of flight disruptions on connecting flights outside the EU.