If an airline cancels a flight, they must pay their customer's fare on the next available flight even if it is with a competing airline, according to a new ruling in Copenhagen City Court this week.
The verdict arrived after a legal battle between KLM and Bente Hagelund, who was seeking compensation for a cancelled flight to Ghana in 2010.
She refused to take KLM's offer of a flight four days later and instead booked the next available flight with Egypt Air at an extra cost of 15,700 kroner.
She then took KLM to court once they refused to compensate her for the flights. Yesterday her efforts were rewarded when the court ruled in her favour and ordered KLM to refund her 46,000 kroner for the cancelled flights as well as the cost of the new tickets.
“KLM has behaved arrogantly and are uniformed,” Bente Hagelund told DR after the verdict was delivered yesterday.
Hagelund, a legal expert, was supported by EU laws on the responsibilities of airlines and hopes that consumers now recognize their rights.
“I didn’t have any understanding of the EU regulations in this area but I set out to investigate them,” Hageulund told 24timer. She later told DR: “My goal is to give consumers information about this rule. You should not be satisfied with being told to go at a later point. And I hope that airlines will take pride in sticking to the rules though I have no expectations that they will.”
According to Mads Mølgaard Bräuner from the consumer watchdog, Forbrugerrådet, Hagelund’s triumph against KLM sets an important precedent.
“It’s the first time an airline has been forced to rebook using another airline,” Bräuner told DR. “This happens on a daily basis and this verdict is an example of why you should stand up for your rights.”