A father-of-three has won more than £3,200 in compensation after representing himself in court against airline giant Monarch after his family endured a 24-hour flight delay in Egypt.
After an 18-month saga and three separate court hearings, 40-year-old doctor Martin Longden left the package holiday provider counting the cost after putting together a strong legal argument.
The airline failed to show up for the final hearing, thinking their excuse that a cracked windscreen on the outbound flight was enough to justify a 24-hour delay to its flight from the popular resort of Sharm El Sheikh to Gatwick on 8th April 2012.
But the judge at Winchester County Court disagreed, ruling that the airline could not claim the delay was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and awarded the Longden family compensation of £2,475, interest of £368 and costs of £435.
Dr Longden told thisismoney.co.uk: “After the problem became apparent, Monarch quickly decided we would be left in Egypt for over 24 hours.
“After many hours of chaos at the airport, we were finally transported to a hotel and given a room with one double bed for our family of five.
“It was a very uncomfortable night. The airline said they did everything to get us home more quickly – but all the evidence suggested they did not.
“Monarch may fly sky-high, but they’re not above the law. And I’m pleased the Judge brought them down to earth with a bump.”
According to EU law, airline customers are entitled to compensation of up to £490 for flights delayed for longer than three hours.
Mr Longden, of Winchester, applied for compensation for himself, his wife Naomi and his three children, and took it to court after their initial claim was denied by Monarch.
Airlines can deny compensation if the delay was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’, such as extreme weather, industrial action, or civil unrest.
Mr Longden also argued that as Gatwick is a major hub for Monarch, then it should have had procedures in place to deal with such faults faster.
In response to the case, Monarch said that it didn’t attend court for the third and final hearing because it was confident it would win.
A spokesman said: “Upon push-back from the stand in Gatwick Airport the flight crew reported that sudden cracks appeared in the First Officer’s windscreen.
“In accordance with safety guidelines, this required the aircraft to return to stand and an investigation be conducted; the aircraft was deemed unserviceable and unable to operate.
“Monarch Airlines was sufficiently confident of the robustness of its case, and of the evidence submitted, that it chose not to send a representative to the third and final hearing.
“We are disappointed in the courts’ ruling as the evidence clearly supports Monarch Airlines’ assertion that the delay was the direct result of an extraordinary circumstance which could not have been foreseen or avoided.
“Monarch Airlines uphold safety and service as its main priorities.”