WEARSIDERS are being warned to keep hold of their airline tickets if they want to claim compensation for delays later.

Sunderland law firm Sweeney Miller says that the recent chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick, where an IT failure left tens of thousands stranded, has raised public awareness that passengers can now claim money back if their flights are delayed for three hours.

Claims can be made up to six years after the date of the delayed flight but Sweeney Miller solicitor Lindsey Christie has warned that paperwork helps to smooth the way.

She said: “For the past few years, passengers have legally been able to claim compensation if their flight was delayed more than three hours.

“But when it comes to making a claim it is much quicker and easier if you have the paperwork to back it up – your flight tickets, your boarding pass, anything which gives clear proof that you were supposed to be on the flight that doesn’t take off on time”.

“Too often we hear of people who might have legitimate claims but can’t lay their hands on the tickets or proof that they were there when the delay took place and then have to rely on requesting the information needed from the airline they are claiming from.

“When it comes to claims like this, you are much more likely to be successful with your claim if you can prove you are a genuine victim, rather than having to ask the airlines to provide the back-up evidence for you which can result in significant delays.”

The right to compensation was strengthened in 2013 in a landmark case when Jeff and Joyce Halsall, took Thomas Cook to court following a 22-hour delay on their flight.

The claim was initially rejected by the Judge who decided that the delay – caused by a mechanical fault – was an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ beyond the airline’s control.

But Mr Halsall, 58, appealed against the decision and won and a  judge at Stoke-on- Trent County Court awarded 800 euros (£680) in compensation plus legal expenses.

The airlines then took up the gauntlet and tried again to get out of paying compensation to passengers with delayed flights by arguing “technical difficulties” should amount to “extraordinary circumstances”.

But in May 2014 the case of Huzar v Jet2.com was heard at the Court of Appeal and the Court rejected this argument again, describing technical faults as; inherent in the running of an airline and as such could not be considered extraordinary.

Since then there have been a number of high profile cases which have been won against airlines seeing passengers awarded compensation following flight delays. These recent cases have clarified the law about getting compensation from your airline for delays of more than 3 hours.

For more information, contact Sweeney Miller on (0191) 568 2050 or email Lindsey@sweeneymiller.co.uk.