The government has unveiled proposals designed to make it easier for airline customers to seek justice from unfair practices in the industry.
Outlined by transport secretary, Grant Shapps, measures include considering the creation of a fairer compensation model for when domestic UK flights are delayed.
Based on the current compensation model used by rail and ferry customers, this will see a significant shift away from the current ‘set rate’ model, the government said.
Passengers would instead 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 three-hour delay.
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 regulator’s powers to further protect both consumers’ and airlines’ interests.
As the UK’s 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.
Shapps said: “People deserve a service that puts passengers first when things go wrong, so today I’ve launched proposals that 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.”
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, airlines are not mandated to cover the cost of repairs, even if the device is damaged while in their care.
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.”