Will The UK’s New Flight Delay Rules Be A Win For Passengers?

Opinions are divided on the UK’s proposed new compensation scheme for passengers. Some have described it as a step backward for consumers, as the smaller average reimbursements may at times not be worth claiming.

Others say that the new plan will benefit travelers when flights are delayed but not hitting the full three-hour mark. The government says that it is one of the wins for UK consumers to come out of Brexit. Let’s have a look at what it is all about, and you can decide how you feel for yourself.

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Differentiating domestic and international

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced last week that it had opened consultations to overhaul the passenger compensation schemes in the case of flight delays. The new protocol would adopt a two-tier setup, differentiating between domestic and international flights.

Rules left from when the UK left the EU would still apply to international flights. These conditions state that a passenger has the right to claim £220 when their flight has been delayed by more than three hours, given there are no ‘exceptional circumstances.’

These rules are currently still in place for all services, be that from Glasgow to London or Manchester to Malaga. Long-haul travelers can get £520 when delayed for more than four hours.


Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1041 (2)

Long-haul and international flights would remain under the current compensation rules. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Tiered approach from 25% to full refund

The government now wants passengers to be able to claim compensation for domestic delays starting at one hour. However, it will only be for a percentage of the fare paid. From one hour to 1 hour 59 minutes, the refund would be 25% of the value of the ticket. Between two hours and 2 hours 59 minutes, it would go up to 50%.

Three hours and up would see the traveler entitled to a full refund. It is unclear whether or not the fare includes any additional services, such as checked-in luggage or seat selection. Under the current system, customers receive nothing in compensation for delays under three hours. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement last week,


“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.”


Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport (AGP) easyJet getty

Could airlines take compensation claims less seriously with smaller amounts, or will it lead to passengers receiving more reimbursements? Photo: Getty Images

Opinions divided

Meanwhile, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said the proposals would improve passenger rights and equip the authority with ‘the appropriate tools to act swiftly and effectively for the benefit of consumers’. According to the new regulations, the CAA would also be provided strengthened power, which would include the ability to fine airlines directly for breaches.

Some are raising concerns that the plans could lead to airlines not taking passengers’ requests for minor compensation seriously and that this could set a dangerous precedent for international flights in the future. More domestic flights could potentially also end up canceled as a result of airlines not having to pay the same financial price as previously.

What do you make of the proposed new compensation rules for UK domestic flight delays? Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.


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