What happens if my flight is brought forward by one hour?

On 21 December the Court of Justice of the European Union decided in joined cases C-146/20, C-188/20, C-196/20 and C-270/20 Azurair and others, in case C-263/20 Airhelp and in case C-395/20 Corendon Airlines. The judgments clarify the rights of the airline customers.

The Court concludes that a flight is considered cancelled when the airline brings it forward by more than an hour. Therefore, it is possible to exercise the right to financial compensation for the flight we have booked. In summary, these rulings provide as follows:

  • An early flight is an inconvenience for passengers. The reason is obvious, both leisure trips need to be organised as well as business trips. This forces the passenger to rearrange his journey according to the new timetable or to look for an alternative means of transport, when everything was already planned.
  • The delay of the airline in providing information about the advance payment justifies further financial compensation.
  • In case of denied boarding or cancellation, the air carrier must inform the passenger of the address of the company from which he can claim compensation and specify the documents to be enclosed with his claim. However, the airline is not obliged to calculate the amount of compensation.
  • Passengers affected by a long delay are entitled to compensation whether or not they were able to board the plane.
  • It details that the claim by the affected passenger can use any document proving the existence of a flight reservation.
  • It is not possible to make a claim to the travel agency with which the flight was booked.
  • If advance notice of the flight departure has been given 14 days in advance, the passenger is only entitled to a refund of the cost of the ticket.
  • Airlines are not entitled to reduce the amount of compensation payable by 50% if the passenger is offered re-routing to reach the final destination without delay .
  • An early flight and a delayed flight are not the same thing. The delay takes into account the loss of time suffered, whereas the advanced flight takes into account the passenger’s mobilisation to get to the airport to catch the flight.

In short, if the flight is brought forward by more than one hour, you have the right to request the corresponding compensation, unless the air carrier has given 14 days’ notice of the event. You can always decide whether to continue flying, if possible, or whether you prefer to get your ticket money back, regardless of the corresponding compensation.