A dispute arose between a passenger and an airline over compensation payments under EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation (261/2004).
The plaintiff had booked a flight from Frankfurt to Tegel at a reduced fare using a travel agency chosen by her employer. The employer had concluded a special agreement with the airline under which it would receive favourable and flexible fares, and employees were entitled to use this tariff for private purposes.
As the plaintiff's flight was cancelled, she claimed compensation under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation.
In the event of flight cancellation, passengers may (in certain circumstances) claim compensation against an air carrier under Article 7(1) of the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation. However, according to the Frankfurt am Main Local Court, this did not apply in the present case in light of Article 3(3) of the regulation, which states that:
This Regulation shall not apply to passengers travelling free of charge or at a reduced fare not available directly or indirectly to the public. However, it shall apply to passengers having tickets issued under a frequent flyer programme or other commercial programme by an air carrier or tour operator.
The plaintiff had booked her flight through a company portal at a rate that was unavailable to the public and the open market. A third party booking the same flight via the open market or the airline's website would therefore have been unable to take advantage of such a reduced rate. Further, the flight tickets were not only cheaper, but also significantly more flexible than those available on the open market.
The Frankfurt am Main Local Court held that the plaintiff's claim was invalid under Article 3(3) of the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation and dismissed the action.(1)
In the event of an assertion of claims under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation, the associated booking conditions must be considered when determining claim validity. Ultimately, travellers with access to corporate customer tariffs between their employer and an airline cannot claim compensation if their flight – whether for professional or private purposes – is delayed or cancelled.
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