07:38 GMT +324 February 2018
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    Passengers wait in line for delayed British Airways flights inside Heathrow Airport in London. (File)

    EU Court of Justice Backs Passengers in Fight Against Airline Cancellation Fees

    © AFP 2018/ CARL DE SOUZA
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    The European Court of Justice has ruled that the extra fee levied by airlines in the case of passenger cancellation is unjustified.

    While airlines change their flight plans and offer little compensation to passengers, when the tables are turned, air passengers can be faced with charges that cost almost as much as the original flight.

    However, a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice has ordered airline carriers to be more transparent in the way they present their fares, and to stop levying extra charges for air passengers who miss or cancel their flights.

    The case was brought by the German Federal Union of Consumer Organizations (VZBZ) against the carrier Air Berlin, which charges a €25 ($29) processing fee if a customer wants to refund their flight.

    VZBZ complained that the charge is invalid under a German law on consumer contracts, since it unduly disadvantages customers. The court in Luxembourg ruled that air carriers' freedom to set prices does not preclude the application of a national law that makes the application of separate flat-rate handling fees invalid.

    In principle, the European Court of Justice ruling will apply across the EU. However, in this case the German Supreme Court will have the last word in the case against Air Berlin. VZBZ said it welcomed the decision.

    "We are really pleased that in the future it will be easier for consumers to get their money back in the event of cancellation," spokesperson Kerstin Hoppe said.

    The ruling follows another judgment regarding air travel made by the European Court of Justice on Wednesday. The court upheld an EU law which forces pilots of passenger, cargo and mail aircraft to retire at 65, rejecting an appeal by a Lufthansa pilot. 

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    EU Court of Justice, flight, charges, airlines, Luxembourg
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