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The UK government has today, Sunday 17 July 2022, published a new “Aviation Passenger Charter”.
The charter sets out, at length, what passengers should expect when booking flights with airlines and your rights when things go wrong.
It has been developed by the government in conjunction with consumer bodies and the travel industry.
What Does The Charter Do?
The charter does not confer any new rights on airline passengers. It is also not a legally enforceable document.
It merely sets out in plain English the government’s position on passenger rights.
In the event of any omissions or discrepancies between the charter and the law, it is the law that will prevail.
The charter also does not carry any endorsements by any airline or airport.
What Does The Charter Cover?
The charter states what you should reasonably expect, for example, if your luggage is lost or your flight is delayed or cancelled.
It also provides details on options when disputes with airlines cannot be resolved, such as third party mediation through Alternative Dispute Resolution.
The charter also covers in detail what disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility should expect in terms of special assistance at airports – a service which both Gatwick and Heathrow consistently fail to deliver.
The charter also covers the obligations of passengers. Those who work in the industry would long point out that running a reliable operation is a two way street!
Much of this is quite obvious to most: have a valid passport and travel insurance, know your baggage allowances, check-in and get to the gate on time and don’t be drunk or it could cost you.
Is The Charter Useful?
One thing can be said with confidence: The Charter isn’t going to save this summer.
After a summer of disruption and blame shifting between airlines & airports there will be a review by government and possible regulatory changes.
In the meantime the charter does provide a single point of reference, even for seasoned travellers, of their rights in the event of disruption.
When passengers are put in unexpected, and possibly stressful, situations it can be easy to forget what your rights are or to know what to ask for. There’s no harm in bookmarking the charter or having a saved copy to refer to.
If you have any suggestions or feedback on the charter, this can be e-mailed to AviationConsumers@dft.gov.uk