UK air travellers to benefit from enhanced protection measures

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2A, check-in hall, November 2015.
Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2A, check-in hall. Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport

In a move aimed at bolstering the aviation sector and instilling confidence among passengers, the UK government has released new proposals that promise improved protection for airline passengers in case of travel disruptions.

These measures, designed to strengthen the regulatory framework and streamline dispute resolution, will ensure higher standards for all flights operating to and from the United Kingdom.

Overall improved protection


Under the new plans, stronger enforcement powers for the regulator and access to faster and cheaper dispute resolution will lead to improved standards for all passengers.

This increased level of protection will apply on flights operating both to and from the United Kingdom, increasing passenger confidence and boosting the aviation sector.

Experiences of disabled passengers

One significant aspect of the proposed changes is the focus on addressing the issue of wheelchair damage experienced by disabled passengers.

Presently, airlines are not mandated to cover the full cost of repairs when wheelchairs are damaged while under their care.

However, under the new regulations, disabled passengers on UK domestic flights will be eligible for full and fair compensation for any damage caused. Furthermore, airlines will be encouraged to waive this compensation cap for international flights as well.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper expressed his commitment to improving the travel experience for passengers, acknowledging the importance of providing adequate compensation for wheelchair damage.

Harper emphasized the government’s dedication to fostering a thriving aviation sector that benefits both passengers and the economy as a whole.

To prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place, the Department for Transport will offer ground handlers specialized training to ensure the proper handling of mobility equipment.

This proactive approach aims to minimize damage and enhance the overall travel experience for disabled passengers.

CAA welcomes government proposal


The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has welcomed the government’s proposals, highlighting the importance of empowering air passengers and strengthening enforcement measures.

The CAA, in line with other regulatory bodies, has long advocated for increased enforcement powers to hold airlines accountable for meeting their obligations towards passengers.

The government’s plans address these concerns and equip the CAA with the necessary tools to protect passenger rights effectively.

The proposed reforms extend beyond compensation for damaged mobility equipment. They also emphasize the importance of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to enable passengers to escalate complaints.

Currently, ADR is offered on a voluntary basis by some airlines, but not all. Under the new regulations, all airlines operating to, from, and within the UK will be required to be members of an approved ADR body.

This will ensure that passengers have access to a dispute resolution process even when their issues cannot be resolved directly with the airline, thus eliminating the need for court proceedings.

Summary


The UK government’s proposals have been informed by the responses received during the aviation consumer policy reform consultation conducted in January 2022.

The aim is to enhance the standards for air passenger travel in the UK and ensure that consumers are adequately protected.

The new proposals put forth by the government promise to enhance the protection and rights of airline passengers.

With stricter enforcement measures, mandatory membership in ADR bodies, and compensation for damaged mobility equipment, the government aims to boost passenger confidence, improve standards in the aviation sector, and contribute to the growth of the UK economy.

By prioritizing the needs of disabled travellers, these measures also demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and ensuring equal access to air travel for all passengers.

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