Sometimes the question arises as to whether airlines have to pay compensation under the Passenger Rights Ordinance or not just for a few minutes. The German Federal Court of Justice dealt with such a case and decided against the travelers.
The European Court of Justice ruled a few years ago that the time of arrival is when the first door is opened and it is possible to get out. The landing does not count as the actual arrival of the machine. But: What if the passenger thinks that they have arrived more than three hours late, but the airline says that they were just below the limit?
Exactly such a case was heard before the German Federal Court of Justice under the reference number X ZR 94/20. The plaintiff was a passenger who flew from Bremen to Tenerife. Due to a technical defect, the departure was delayed by about three hours. The arrival, however, stayed just below this relevant mark. According to plan, the medium-haul jet should have reached the parking position at 15:25 p.m.
The airline claims they parked at 18:20 p.m. and shortly before 18:25 p.m. the first door was opened to disembark. The plaintiff countered that it was only possible to get off at 18:35 p.m. So it was a matter of a few minutes that decide whether the compensation has to be paid or not.
The Federal Court of Justice ruled that airlines are not obliged to document the exact time the door is opened in the logbook. The submission of this had brought "no further knowledge" in the process. In such controversial cases, passengers would have to be able to document the time of arrival and prove it in court. Thus, the German highest court ruled in favor of the defendant airline.