UK Supreme Court Rules Against British Airways, Paving Way for Massive Compensation Claims

By Madz Dizon

Jul 10, 2024 07:29 PM EDT

UK Supreme Court Rules Against British Airways, Paving Way for Massive Compensation Claims
A British Airways Airbus A320-232 comes in to land at Heathrow Airport in west London on April 29, 2024.
(Photo : ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

British Airlines may be required to pay significant compensation to customers after a recent Supreme Court ruling determined that crew sickness is not considered an "extraordinary circumstance." 

British Airways to Pay Passengers Over Flight Delays

A couple filed a lawsuit against British Airways (BA) after their flight was cancelled due to the pilot falling ill and no replacement being found. 

A couple, Kenneth and Linda Lipton, decided to take legal action against British Airways following a delay of two and a half hours on their flight from Milan to London.

In January 2018, their original flight was unfortunately cancelled when a pilot fell ill just before the plane was scheduled to take off. The airline declined to provide £220 ($282) compensation to the couple for the delay, citing the pilot's illness as an unavoidable "extraordinary circumstance."

According to Daily Mail, the UK Supreme Court has issued a ruling in their favor, emphasizing that while the amount in question may be small, the decision could have significant implications for a large number of claims.

Travellers who have previously had their claims denied in England and Wales now have the opportunity to resubmit their claims for compensation. Passengers in Scotland are eligible to make a claim if the incident occurred within the last five years.

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British Airways Experesses Disappointment with the Ruling

After two lower courts had sided with the company, the case was brought before the highest court in the country following a ruling in favor of the couple by the Court of Appeal.

On Wednesday, July 10, the appeal made by the company was unanimously dismissed by five Supreme Court justices. The judges emphasized the importance of Regulation 261 in safeguarding the rights of flyers and ensuring a strong level of consumer protection.

The Supreme Court emphasized the significance of the crew member's role in the airline's operation, stating that their presence remains essential regardless of the timing of the pilot's illness.

A spokesperson for BA said: "We are disappointed with this decision and respect the judgment of the court." 

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