CMA and CAA tell airlines to treat passengers better over cancellations  

By Lisa James
21/07/2022
Home » CMA and CAA tell airlines to treat passengers better over cancellations  

Airlines have been told to stop selling tickets for flights they’re not sure will go ahead and provide more help to passengers hit by cancellations.

The warning comes from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which say failure to do so risks causing ‘significant harm’ to customers over the next few months.

The CMA and CAA have jointly written to airlines to remind them of their obligations.

In an open letter, they said ‘some airlines have performed better than others’ but added: “We are concerned that consumers could experience significant harm unless airlines meet their obligations and minimise flight disruptions throughout the summer and beyond.”

The letter reminds airlines to keep customers informed on flight status, let them know their rights and support them ‘so they can assess their options sufficiently in advance of travel’.

Concerns voiced by the CMA and CAA include selling more tickets for flights than they can reasonably expect to supply and failing to warn consumers about the ensuing risk of cancellation; not offering re-routing options in the event of cancellation; failing to give consumers sufficiently clear and upfront information about their rights on cancellation, and not providing adequate and appropriate support and care where flights are cancelled or disrupted.

The letter does says that it ‘appears that refunds and compensation are generally being processed and paid in a timely fashion’ but the CMA and CAA want to ensure payment delays and other issues do not begin to emerge over summer as more flights are cancelled.

Airlines shouldn’t impose artificial limits on expenses customers incur when their flight has been cancelled and airlines should ‘be clear and give accurate information about any reasonable upper cost limit’.

“Giving false information or omitting this information (eg saying the expense just has to be ‘reasonable’) is likely be misleading under the CPRs [Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations],” the letter says.

Airlines also need to monitor call wait times, provide multiple routes for communication instead of just via apps, as well as offer more help to passengers who may not be able to book alternative routes or self-fund flight tickets and accommodation.

The letter concludes that the CAA will ‘continue to monitor airlines’ practices and consumers’ experiences, including by engaging with airlines to ensure they are addressing our concerns’.

“If we receive evidence that consumers continue to experience these serious problems, the CAA, supported by the CMA, will consider further action, including enforcement,” it says.

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