BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Passengers can sue airlines for compensation in the country where their trip ends when a delay in the first leg of their journey causes them to miss connecting flights, the EU’s top court said on Wednesday.
If they fly on a single booking, passengers can seek compensation in court at their final destination, even if the airline only carried them to their first stop, the court said.
Air carriers have an obligation “to carry a passenger from point A to point C,” the Court of Justice of the European Union said in a ruling.
For airline passengers who experience complications traveling back to their home country, the ruling means they can battle for compensation at a local court rather than an international one.
The case was brought to the EU’s highest court after Air Berlin and Iberia passengers, who missed their second flights to Germany because of a delay caused by Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum, brought actions against the carrier for compensation in Germany.
Air Nostrum, an independent carrier that works on behalf of Iberia Airlines, has the sole responsibility for getting the passengers to their destination, the court said.
A German court had asked the ECJ whether it could take an international case, given that Air Nostrum is based in Spain.
“It is sufficiently foreseeable for an airline which, like Air Nostrum, operates only the first flight from point A to point B that the passengers can take action against it before the courts of point C,” the court added.
Reporting by Samantha Koester; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and David Goodman