(CN) – An advocate with Europe’s high court recommended holding airlines to tougher compensation requirements when they cancel flights within the European Union.
Passengers may receive between $355 to $855 under current EU regulations if their flights are canceled or delayed for more than five hours, depending on the distance of that flight. The rules also require the airlines to provide their stranded passengers with accommodation, meals and phone calls.
Two couples and an individual, all from Spain, sued Air France after a flight from Paris turned around mid-air due to technical problems. Although everyone was booked for flights the following day, the airline apparently failed to provide assistance to both couples.
Each passenger sought $355 in compensation, along with $425 to $925 in nonmaterial damages. The passengers also sought reimbursement of meals and other expenses, including the $245 one couple spent on a cab home from the city to which they were rerouted.
Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston opined for the Court of Justice of the European Union that when a flight returns to its point of origin without landing at its destination, it may be considered canceled.
“The carrier has carried no one, and nothing, anywhere,” Sharpston wrote for the Luxembourg-based court.
Compensation may also include nonmaterial damages, she said, such as in the case when an airline has failed to provide care and assistance.
A passenger shouldn’t have to request such care – it should be automatically offered, she added.
And funds distributed for assistance in the case of a canceled flight may not be used to offset the compensation itself, the adviser concluded.
The Court of Justice is likely to rule in favor of the passengers based on Sharpston’s nonbinding opinion.
The same court upheld the regulations, which many airlines consider burdenshome, in a 2009 ruling.