Family wins £10,000 after Iceland ash cloud caused four-day trip home

Family wins £10,000 after Iceland ash cloud caused four-day trip homePA


A family who endured a gruelling four-day trip home after the Icelandic ash cloud brought planes to a halt across Europe has finally been awarded £10,000 in compensation.

Philip Marshall, one of Britain's top barristers, was determined to get justice for his family after they were left stranded in Spain on their way home from the trip of a lifetime in the Galapagos Islands, according to the Daily Mail.

Mr Marshall along with his wife and three children were in Madrid waiting to fly back to London when the Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland, grounding most flights.

The couple were told by an Iberia Airlines worker that they would be best off making their own way back to London.

So, the family hired a car and drove to Bordeaux, where they stayed the night before driving to Paris; they then caught a train to Brussels where they also spent the night, before catching the Eurostar back to London.

In the meantime, a flight had actually become available the day after they left the airport in Madrid.

The family were entitled to the refund of the missed flight, a cost of £1,075, but the airline refused to pay the cost of their extended journey home.

Mr Marshall represented himself and, after his first claim was dismissed, he appealed and won the payout, after Judge William Birtles decided the airline had breached air industry regulations in not re-routing the family as soon as possible.

Iberia Airlines was ordered to pay £8,000 for the cost of the trip back to London, as well as £2,000 for inconvenience.

Mr Marshall told the Daily Mail that he hoped his case would show other people that "you do have the right to seek compensation" and said that airlines "want to intimidate people into not making a claim".

Airlines have long contested what they should be liable to pay customers and what they should not in "extraordinary circumstances".

Back in March of this year, Ryanair lost its latest round in its legal battle to avoid paying for hotels, meals and drinks to passengers who were affected by delays due to the Icelandic volcano erupting in 2010.

The European Court of Justice's advocate general Yves Bot said that airlines were obliged to pay the costs incurred by its passengers whose flights were disrupted by 'extraordinary circumstances' like the volcano.

Ryanair's argument was that the closure of airspace from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupting was so extraordinary that the rules shouldn't apply.

But the Advocate General said there could be no "separate category of 'particularly extraordinary' events which would fully release the air carrier from its obligations."

Airlines are obliged by EU law to provide passengers with hotels and accommodation when flights are cancelled due to events that are beyond their control.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in March 2010 and created an ash cloud, closing most areas of European airspace between 15 and 23 April.

Ryanair offered refunds for tickets of stranded passengers and processed 'reasonable expense claims' costing the airline around 32 million euros.

But the legal battle began in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court when Denise McDonagh of Dublin said she spent £1,000 on accommodation, food and transport during her seven-day wait for a Ryanair flight from Faro to Dublin, and Ryanair refused to pay the full amount.

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