Five airlines have been accused of dodging compensation payouts for more than 200,000 passengers who are delayed on their flights every year.
The companies are said to be using a legal loophole to avoid paying out £509 when customers are delayed on certain flights.
But the Civil Aviation Authority has now begun legal action against American Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
The CAA found that these airlines are 'breaching consumer law.' Under EU law passengers can claim up to £509 if they arrive at their destination more than three hours late so long as the delay is within the airline's control.
The firms have avoided making payments by treating connecting journeys as two separate flights, and arguing that if the second flight takes off outside the EU, the law does not apply.
Richard Moriarty, director of consumers and markets at the CAA, said:
"There are clear laws in place to make sure passengers that experience this type of disruption are looked after by their airline and compensated.
"So it's disappointing to see a small number of airlines continuing to let a number of their passengers down by refusing to pay them the compensation they are entitled to. When we see evidence of passengers systematically being denied their rights, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action to ensure airlines change their policies."
If your flight was delayed and the airline was at fault, you may be eligible for compensation. Speak to our Manchester team on 0845 603 0708 to see if you might have a claim.