On Monday the 31st of January, the UK government released the proposal for a series of changes they intend to make to air passenger rights. These focused on changes to the consumer protection laws currently in place for domestic airlines.

This proposal was announced by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, and went into some issues that will be consulted on surrounding the CAA, consumer compensations, and efficient compensation claims. A few of these changes have also been made possible by the UK leaving the EU, allowing the government to make changes to EU dictated rules.

Possible Compensation Changes for Air Passenger Rights

Grant Shapps specified that the government intend to make compensation fairer for consumers. They also want to make the resolution process for claims and refunds quicker and cheaper, so that the consumer can process a claim with less hassle.

Part of the intention to do this includes the possibility of giving the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) more powers. These could include but may not be limited to:

  • The power to enforce consumer protection laws; and
  • The ability to directly fine airlines for breaches.

The government also want to make compensation rules fairer for passengers with wheelchairs or mobility scooters. If a passenger’s wheelchair or mobility scooter is damaged on a UK flight, these new rules would allow them to claim 100% compensation for the damage, as opposed to current rules which only allow partial compensation claims.

While trying to make compensation fairer surrounding air passenger rights, the government also proposed changes to the model surrounding delays. Currently, compensation claims adhere to flat rates for flights. This change would instead align the compensation model with that used for rail and ferry claims. This means it would work on the basis of ticket prices and delay times.

  • Delays between 1 and 2 hours – 25% of the ticket price can be claimed
  • Delays between 2 and 3 hours – 50% of the ticket price can be claimed
  • Delays over 3 hours – 100% of the ticket price can be claimed.

This system would allow consumers to claim based on how long they’ve been made to wait, and what kind of ticket they have booked. This allows a fairer exchange than the currently operating flat rates regardless of time or price.

Airlines Required to Join the ADR Scheme

In this consultation, the government also attend to address air passenger rights through the airlines themselves. To do this, they have proposed making it mandatory for all airlines to be a part of the Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme (ADR).

Currently, there are only 2 providers that an airline can register with to be a part of the ADR scheme, and application to the scheme is entirely voluntary. Because of this, the benefits of this scheme are only available to the consumers booking with these airlines, where it could be a great benefit to all consumers.

The ADR scheme essentially helps consumers to escalate certain complaints without going to court. These complaints will be anything that cannot be dealt with, or further dealt with, between the consumer and the airline alone.

For example, if the consumer is trying to make a claim that they are owed under the air passenger rights in place, but they are struggling to get this refund, then they can escalate either directly to the court or through the ADR scheme. But, because not all airlines are registered with the ADR scheme, this makes it more difficult for some consumers to claim.

To address this, the government have proposed making it mandatory for airlines to register with the ADR scheme. This means all consumers would have access to this resource, no matter the airline (you can find out more about the ADR scheme on the Trading Standards website).

On Monday (31st January) Grant Shapps said, “People deserve a service that puts passengers first when things go wrong, so today I’ve launched proposals which aim to bolster airline consumer protections and rights.

“We’re 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.”

Many businesses in the travel industry are cheering on this news for air passenger rights changes. Consumer protection in travel is more important than ever before, whether it is relevant to Covid or a move to make consumer protection laws more efficient and understandable.

It is great to see progress like this being made to help protect consumers in travel and make the process of compensation claims easier.

So, if you’re looking forward to booking your next great holiday, don’t wait, get in touch with a travel business registered with PTS today for 100% financial protection through trust. Or, if you’d like assistance choosing one of the lovely PTS members to book with, you can contact PTS directly at 0207 190 9988.

And if you’d like to learn more about your consumer protection with PTS or how the Package Travel Regulations protect your holiday booking, check out our pages and articles.

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