The number of complaints from British air travellers soared last year, an official passenger watchdog body has reported. More than 6,000 written complaints were received in 2005/06 by the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) - nearly three times the number received in 2004/05, according to the Press Association.
Nearly two-thirds of the written complaints were about cancellations and delays, while grumbles about mislaid baggage also increased.
The number of telephone complaints received by the council increased from 3,514 in 2004/05 to 3,755 in 2005/06.
The AUC had forecast a big rise in complaints following passengers being given more rights under a new European Commission regulation regarding denied boarding, cancellations and delays.
In the event, written complaints about cancellations soared from 297 in 2004/05 to 1,983 in 2005/06, with complaints about delays rising from 436 to 1,969.
Telephone complaints about delays rose from 446 to 711 while telephone complaints about cancellations increased from 427 to 583.
The number of written complaints about mishandled baggage rose from 323 in 2004/05 to 458 in 2005/06.
There were also sharp rises in the number of written complaints about overbooking and ticketing issues.
In total, the AUC handled 9,849 complaints and inquiries in 2005/06 - a 50% increase on 2005/06.
AUC chairman Tina Tietjen said: ‘We know from discussions with airlines that, for the most part, they have worked hard to ensure that passengers receive their entitlements under the new (EC) regulation.
‘However, the main message coming out of our complaints work appears to be that company policy is still not consistently applied at ground level. There remain too many occasions when those suffering delays and cancellations are often not getting their full entitlements.’’
She went on: ‘We urge airline management to do more to ensure that passengers do receive these entitlements as a matter of course. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the complaints we receive under the regulation over the year ahead. And, where appropriate, we will continue to pass on details of possible breaches of the regulation to the Civil Aviation Authority.’’