If an airline cancels a flight, passengers may insist on alternative transportation. Air travelers can also become active themselves.
Automatic entitlement to substitute transportation
If airlines cancel a flight, passengers are automatically entitled to alternative transportation. If the airline does not take care of this request, passengers can also search for a flight on their own and have any additional costs incurred reimbursed.
Those affected may also insist on this right if flights booked as a substitute are assigned to a higher seat class and depart from a different airport than the canceled connection.
This is referred to by a judgment by the Cologne Regional Court with the file number 4 O 440/20.
Details of the litigation
The plaintiff was a man who wanted to travel from Singapore to Germany with his wife. However, when the airline canceled the flight in March 2020, the person concerned tried in vain to contact the airline by phone or email to find out how to proceed.
Consequently, the airline did not submit an alternative offer for carriage. For this reason, the man took the initiative himself after several unsuccessful attempts to make contact.
During this period, airport closures were repeatedly announced due to the corona pandemic. At that time, the couple were in Thailand. The plaintiff booked flight tickets for both people in advance in the direction of Singapore in order to use the flight to Germany, which has since been cancelled. However, there were no adequate replacement flights to Singapore on the said departure day.
Alternative flight with superior seat class
For this reason, the plaintiff inquired about flights from Thailand to Germany. However, only flight connections with higher-quality seat classes were available.
After the man had booked the plane tickets for himself and his wife, he canceled the specially booked feeder flights to Singapore.
The airline then paid the man “compensation” of around 2,500 euros. But the plaintiff also demanded additional cost sharing for the specially booked business class flights from Thailand to Germany, which cost around 5,000 euros.
The airline is liable for damages
The District Court agreed to this claim. According to the verdict, the airline is liable for damages in this case. According to § 8 EU passenger rights regulation there is a right to reimbursement. The other place of departure or the higher seat class does not change this.
In the opinion of the court, if the airline did not make an alternative offer for a replacement flight in the near future, this is a breach of duty. However, the man was not reimbursed for the cancellation costs for flight tickets from Thailand to Singapore. In the eyes of the court, this area does not fall within the airline’s sphere of influence.