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Tue, 1 February 2022

UK to Strengthen Airline Passenger Rights

(01 Feb 2022)  The UK is currently looking at proposals designed to make it easier for airline customers to receive fair compensation when their flights are delayed, and to give them more power when there are disputes.

Instead of the set rate compensation model in use today, passengers would be able to claim compensation based on the length of the flight delay and linked to cost of travel rather than having to meet a certain threshold which is currently a 3-hour delay.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said, "People deserve a service that puts passengers first when things go wrong, so Ive launched proposals that aim to bolster airline consumer protections and rights. Were making the most of our Brexit dividend with our new freedoms outside of the EU and this review will help build a trustworthy, reputable sector."

London Heathrow T2. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.
London Heathrow T2. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com

The government is also considering mandating all airlines to 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 setup, there are two ADR providers 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.

The proposals also aim to strengthen the UK regulators powers to further protect both consumers and airlines interests. As the UKs aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) works to ensure consumers are protected and treated fairly. Under the new proposals, they would have increased powers to enforce consumer protection law, for example, and would be able to fine airlines directly for breaches where appropriate.

Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive at the UK CAA, 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 Civil Aviation Authority with the appropriate tools to act swiftly and effectively for the benefit of consumers. The ADR scheme has helped thousands of consumers seek redress from their airline or airport and we welcome the proposal to bring more airlines onto the scheme. We will respond to the consultation in the coming weeks."

The plans also consult on mandating that airlines provide wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility with the full amount of compensation for any damage caused to their wheelchair or mobility scooter during a domestic UK flight.

At present, under legacy rules, airlines are not mandated to cover the cost of repairs, even if the device is damaged while in their care.

Caroline Stickland, Chief Operating Officer at Transport for All, said, "Having your wheelchair or mobility aid lost or damaged by an airline doesnt just put a damper on a holiday. It can mean a total loss of independence and mobility. Much more needs to be done to safeguard against this, including fair recourse to compensation for disabled passengers. We welcome these proposals and hope they mark the start of further positive changes in this area so that disabled people, whatever their access requirements, can travel with security and confidence when using airlines."

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