By Marine Strauss
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Air travelers cannot receive cash compensation if their flight is delayed by a passenger biting others and assaulting crew members, an adviser at the Court of Justice of the European Union said on Thursday.
Such incidents were “extraordinary circumstances,” Advocate General Priit Pikamae wrote in a non-binding opinion, a form of guidance that is normally followed by the court.
A traveler flying from Brazil to Norway via Portugal in Aug. 2017 with Portuguese airline TAP sought 600 euros compensation in accordance with EU law, after his flight departed late from the Brazilian city of Fortaleza.
The plane had to be diverted to disembark a passenger biting and assaulting crew members before it could land back in Brazil, delaying the following outgoing flight.
“A passenger biting other passengers and attacking the cabin crew trying to calm him down, resulting in the deviation of a Lisbon-Fortaleza flight to the nearest airport in order to disembark this passenger and his baggage, leading to a flight delay, falls under the concept of extraordinary circumstances,” Pikamae said.
TAP argued that the delay at arrival in Lisbon, resulting in the passenger missing his connecting flight to Oslo, was due to the fact that the airline used the same plane that was diverted on its way to Brazil to disembark the violent passenger and it was not possible to send another plane on time.
The court itself will likely rule in two to four months on the matter. It typically follows the opinions of its advocate generals.
(Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine)