Storm Ciara wreaked havoc over the UK this weekend, leaving airlines in a bit of a flap with countless cancelations and delays. Safety should of course be paramount. But for customers it is at best inconvenient and at worst catastrophic. So what are aviation consumer rights amid extraordinary circumstances, and what affect will Brexit have?
When you’re hit by flight cancellations and delays we think airlines should step up and compensate you automatically.Which
Extraordinary circumstances are events considered out of the airlines control, responsible for the delay or cancellation of a flight.
A List of Extraordinary Circumstances
- political or civil unrest
- extreme weather
- bird strikes
- security threats
- natural disasters
- disease outbreaks
- drone disruption
- air traffic control restrictions
- foreign and commonwealth office bans
If this is the case airlines do not have to pay compensation, but passengers are entitled to assistance for delays of 2 hours or more. This includes: phone calls, emails, faxes, food, refreshments and hotel accommodation.
It is worth challenging extraordinary circumstances, as airlines sometimes attempt to push the definition boundaries (if other flights took off during storm Ciara why didn’t yours). The airline will have to provide evidence that extraordinary circumstances applied, and delays/cancelations were unavoidable. Airline staff strikes/shortages, technical problems, and knock-on delays are not extraordinary circumstances and passengers should be compensated.
To make a claim for compensation write a letter to the airline, including flight number, a copy of your ticket, and why you should be compensated. Claims can be made up to six years later. If you are still not happy you can appeal the decision, using an alternative dispute resolution scheme or ombudsman service. Independent third parties either mediate communication between the complainant and company until a satisfactory outcome is achieved, or considers the facts and makes a legally binding decision (known as arbitration).
How Does Brexit Affect Consumer Rights?
Although many consumer rights are based on EU directives, most have been incorporated into UK law and will stay the same after the UK leaves the EU on the 31 January 2020. The European Union Withdrawal Act will come into force when the UK leaves. EU law will continue to apply at least until the end of the transition period, and existing EU laws will stay the same, unless the UK government decides to change them through parliament.