The European Court of Justice had to deal with the question of whether passengers whose flights had already been canceled by the airline in advance still had to appear at the check-in counter or otherwise their right to compensation would be considered forfeited. The Supreme Court ruled that this was not necessary.
The complaining passengers had booked a fifth freedom flight from Frankfurt am Main to Madrid with Latam Airlines. This was at short notice, as the trip was scheduled to take place the next day. Since the online check-in did not work, one of the travelers contacted the carrier's hotline. There he found out that the flight he had booked would not take place and was automatically rebooked to another connection without any further information. Only: This flight would have been carried out on the day of booking. There was also the bad news that if you didn't take the flight, you would be denied boarding on the return flight because you didn't use the outbound flight.
The passengers demanded compensation from Latam Airlines in accordance with the Air Passenger Rights Ordinance. The matter surrounding the return flight was particularly spicy because the travelers were not even present in Madrid. The German court turned to the ECJ with the question of whether there was an obligation to pay because the return flight was “cancelled” more than 14 days in advance and the passengers did not even show up at the check-in counter.
This decided that Latam Airlines was liable to pay, regardless of the fact that the refusal of carriage was communicated outside the 14-day period. In the specific case, all the circumstances matter, because the short-term and unannounced rebooking of the outbound flight would have been a decisive factor in the fact that the contract of carriage was not fulfilled in accordance with the contract.
In court, Latam Airlines tried to argue regarding the return flight that passengers who want to make claims must be present at check-in. The ECJ made it clear that this is not provided for in the Air Passenger Rights Regulation. In addition, this would be absurd, because the airline had announced that boarding on the booked return flight would be refused because the outward flight, which Latam had unreasonably brought forward on his own initiative on the day of booking, was not or could not be taken.