Claiming Flight Compensation For A Technical Defect

The majority of flights are delayed due to ‘technical defects’. These delays and cancellations are eligible for compensation thanks to a Court of Appeal victory in a case of Huzar v Jet2 which ruled that technical faults were not extraordinary circumstances.

Updated on December 13th, 2018


Following the ruling, some airlines started telling passengers that delays caused by technical faults were a result of ‘ hidden manufacturing defects’ and therefore not claimable under EU Regulation 261/2004.

This guide will explain the difference between a technical fault and a hidden manufacturing defect and the relevant legal decisions that have shaped EU261 in this area.

It will also explain how to claim for technical defect delays and how to work out if your delay is eligible for compensation.

Technical Faults vs Hidden Manufacturing Defects

If your flight was delayed and you believe it to be a technical defect, the airline may try to claim that it was in fact delayed because of a hidden manufacturing defect.

The only reason for this is because the airline does not have to pay flight compensation for a delay caused by a hidden manufacturing defect, but it does for technical defects.

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The law on flight delay compensation and care during delays is EU Regulation 261/2004. These rules provide a valid defence for airlines to not have to pay out – when delays and cancellations are caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Some of the issues that would be classed as standard technical problems and eligible for compensation include:

  • Wiring issues
  • Engine problems
  • Cracked windshields
  • Instrument malfunctions
  • Accidental damage to the aircraft

The airline does not have to pay if the technical problem was a hidden manufacturing defect. However, these are very rare and have to involve a mass recall of parts and/or the grounding of a fleet of aircraft.

A hidden manufacturing defect would almost certainly be featured in the national news so you would know if your flight was affected by this type of delay.

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Supreme Court Ruling on Technical Defects

The highest profile case involving technical defects was the case of Huzar v Jet2 that was taken all the way to the Supreme Court as the airline tried to argue technical defects were extraordinary circumstances.

Mr Huzar experienced a 27-hour delay after a fault in a wiring loom was detected and parts had to be flown in from another location which sent the delay overnight.

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The judge at Stockport County Court initially found in favour of the airline, ruling that technical faults were extraordinary circumstances.

The case was appealed at Manchester County Court and this time the decision went the way of Mr Huzar, although the airline then referred this to the Court of Appeal.

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The landmark ruling came in June 2014 in favour of the passenger and the Supreme Court refused the airline permission to appeal this ruling, thereby making technical problems eligible for compensation.

One other key court case on technical faults involved van der Lans v KLM. This case was heard by the European Court of Justice and centered around whether ‘spontaneous’ technical problems were extraordinary circumstances.

The court found that any technical problem caused by wear and tear, regardless of when and how it is discovered, is not an extraordinary circumstance and therefore eligible for compensation.

How to Claim For Technical Defects

If your flight has been delayed for more than three hours as a result of a technical defect then you should be able to claim flight delay compensation from the airline.

While claiming is supposed to be easy, the airlines don’t always make it straightforward for passengers.

Assuming the delay is due to a technical problem then you will also need to have departed from an EU airport, or arrive in to an EU airport on an EU airline. This will make sure you are covered by Regulation 261/2004.

To be eligible for compensation you also need to have met the following criteria:

  • You checked in and presented for boarding
  • The flight was delayed for more than three hours at your final destination
  • You paid something for your ticket

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As many as 2 million people flying in and out of the UK each year are eligible for flight delay compensation, meeting the criteria above.

Claim amounts are set by EU Regulation 261 and are in Euros ranging from 250 for shorter delays on short haul routes, up to 600 Euros for longer delays of over 4 hours on long haul flights.

Fight Delay Compensation Amounts

Flight DistanceLength Of DelayCompensation Amount
Up to 1,500km3 hours or more€250
1,500km-3,500km3 hours or more€400
Over 3,500km3 hours or more & between 2 EU Member States€400
Over 3,500km3-4 hours€300
Over 3,500km4 hours €600

You can claim as far back as 6 years so dig out those old flight details as you might have some unclaimed money waiting for you!

Claiming Process

To make a claim direct with the airline you should write to them stating the flight number and date of travel plus how much you are claiming in compensation.

If you don’t hear back from the airline, or they send you a response you’re not happy with, then try sending the details to us and we will claim on your behalf.

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We have won thousands of claims when an airline refuses to pay out and our legal team will go all the way to the Supreme Court on your behalf if we need to.

Our claims process is 100% no win no fee so there is no risk to claiming with us. We deal with tens of thousands of technical defect delay claims each year so we have the best legal knowledge available to win your claim.

Get An Instant Decision On Your Flight

Our flight compensation checker is the most accurate on the web. It checks the following instantly.

  • The length of your delay
  • The cause of your delay
  • Legal validity of claim
  • How much you could claim

Check Your Flight