Four in 10 fear airlines won’t treat them fairly if things go wrong, Which? says

By Lisa James
09/01/2023
Home » Four in 10 fear airlines won’t treat them fairly if things go wrong, Which? says

Which? has repeated its call for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to be given powers to clamp down on airlines when they flout the law after new research reveals four in 10 passengers doubt they’d be treated fairly if something was to go wrong with their flight.  

In a recent survey, Which? found that travellers who suffered a delay with their most recent flight were the most likely to express doubt that their airline would treat them fairly in future, with nearly half (49%) saying that they lacked confidence, compared with four in 10 (39%) travellers overall.

Flight-only customers were more likely to lack confidence in being treated fairly (45%) compared to those who booked a package holiday (31%).

Four in 10 (41%) of those surveyed reported an issue with their most recent flight.

Delays were the most prevalent issue, with almost three quarters (73%) of those who suffered a problem reporting that they were delayed, and nearly a third of those (30%) waited for over two hours in total.

Of the 149 people who suffered a cancellation or a delay of more than two hours, 35 believed airlines did not meet the requirements for cancellation or delays, such as informing them of their rights to assistance.

Which? says it has heard from hundreds of passengers who have struggled to get compensation, including one woman they are calling Rachel Cannon (not her real name), who was stranded with her family in Menorca for five days after her easyJet flight home was cancelled at short notice last summer.

EasyJet initially refused to pay out, citing extraordinary circumstances, so she went to an independent adjudicator and easyJet agreed to pay £880 as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

However, it took court action and the intervention of Which? Travel, before the money was paid – three and a half months after submitting the original claim.

Which? says the hundreds of passengers it has heard similar stories from are ‘just a fraction of the wider picture’.

Which? said: “With the long-promised Transport Bill now scrapped from this Parliamentary Session, an independent review of the CAA still ongoing, and no decision forthcoming on consultation proposals made in early 2022, the Transport Secretary must urgently make clear how and when he will make these much-needed powers a reality.”

Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy Rocio Concha said: “After the unacceptable delays and disruption experienced by travellers last year, it is concerning, though perhaps unsurprising, to find that almost two-fifths of travellers express a lack of confidence that they’ll receive fair treatment from their airlines should things go awry in future.

“The Transport Secretary must urgently set out plans to equip the aviation regulator with greater enforcement powers so it can properly hold airlines to account when they mistreat passengers and neglect their legal responsibilities. Without decisive action, some airlines will continue to be emboldened to fail passengers, as we’ve seen repeatedly in the last few years.”

More than 43,000 people have signed a Which? petition to the Transport Secretary. Which? is calling for the CAA to do more to hold airlines to account; for a mandatory dispute resolution system so travellers don’t have to go to the small claims court and fair compensation for delays and cancellations, including the dropping of proposals to slash pay-outs for domestic flights.

The survey was carried out in October 2022, among 1,000 UK adults who flew between January and October last year from a UK airport.

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