Govt plans shake-up of air passenger protection rules

Man at airport waiting to fly
By Lisa James
Home » Govt plans shake-up of air passenger protection rules

The Government wants to shake up the rules on rights for passengers on UK domestic flights, including making compensation fairer and ensuring the resolution process is quicker and cheaper.

The proposals also entail giving the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) more powers, such as enforcing consumer protection law and the ability to fine airlines directly for breaches. 

In addition, passengers with wheelchairs or mobility scooters that are damaged during a UK domestic flight will be able to claim the full amount of compensation, which is not currently the case.

The Government wants to create a fairer compensation model for domestic UK flight delays, based on the one used by rail and ferry customers, which compensates passengers on the length of the flight delay and is linked to cost of travel.

The proposals say compensation of 25% of the ticket price should be paid for a delay of over an hour but less than two hours; 50% of the ticket price for a delay of over two hours but less than three and 100% of the ticket price for a delay of over three hours.

The Government also wants to make all airlines be part of the aviation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme, which would give consumers a route for escalating certain complaints that cannot be settled between the consumer and airline, without needing to go to court. 

In the current set up, there are two providers of ADR in the UK, and airlines can join voluntarily.

Under the new proposals, all airlines would have to join the scheme, giving customers access to this dispute route regardless of who they fly with. This could help people who are struggling to get refunds when they are entitled to them.

CAA Chief Executive Richard Moriarty said: “We welcome the action from the Government to improve the rights of air passengers. This consultation is a clear indication of the need to enhance our enforcement powers and bring us in line with other regulators.

“The proposals will improve passenger rights and equip the CAA with the appropriate tools to act swiftly and effectively for the benefit of consumers.

“The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme has helped thousands consumers seek redress from their airline or airport, and we welcome the proposal to bring more airlines onto the scheme.”

Consumer champion Which? has also welcomed the proposals.

Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy Rocio Concha said: “For years passengers have been let down by some companies in the travel sector, battling to be heard or to get the compensation they are owed when things go wrong.

“Trust in travel plummeted further during the pandemic when some airlines ignored their legal obligations and refused to pay refunds for cancelled flights.

“This consultation is a welcome first step that must improve and strengthen consumer rights and protections so that complaints are dealt with fairly and promptly, and that passengers receive the money they are due quickly and without unnecessary hassle.

“It is also vital that the system is backed up by a regulator with the powers it needs to take swift and strong action against any company that breaks consumer law.” 

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