Higher violence or higher power, but it means force majeure, an event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled. This has been defined more narrowly recently to limit E.U. railways’ and airlines’ ability to refuse to compensate passengers by claiming helplessness after poor management.
Even in force majeure cases such as bad weather, landslides or labor strikes, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said on 26 Sep 2013, passenger railways will still owe customers some money back after a late train arrival.
If your E.U. train is 1 hour late, you have the right to reimbursement of 25% of the purchase price of your ticket. 2 hours, 50%.
As part of their reporting on the Court’s decision, ARD tagesschau.de interviewed rail passengers waiting at German train stations, many of whom said they had in the past qualified for money back due to late trains but didn’t bother going through with the paperwork.
On 05 Feb 2014, the E.U. Parliament voted to strengthen air passenger rights, in part by passing a stricter, eight-part definition of force majeure for airlines.
Though they’re not done wending their way through the governments yet, the new rules would give passengers on E.U. flights delayed >3 hours the right to 300 euros from their airline, >5 hours = 400 euros, and >7 hours = 600 euros.
(HƏ ƏH rah geh VAULT.)