(CN) – A European airline cannot refuse to compensate passengers for canceled flights unless the circumstances are extraordinary, the EU Court of Justice ruled.
Friederike Wallentin-Hermann was informed five minutes before departure that her Alitalia flight from Vienna to Rome was canceled. She and her family had to take a later flight, so they missed their connecting flight from Rome to Brindisi, Italy.
The cancellation took place due to a mechanical defect that was discovered a day before the flight. The airline refused to compensate the family for the missed flight and telephone calls.
The court ruled that technical problems do not always fall under the “extraordinary circumstances” category. Terrorism and hidden manufacturing defects would fall into this category, since they are not covered by routine airplane maintenance.