The UK Government has updated its guidance for airline passengers on their rights and protections while travelling, though some consumer rights advocates have said that more needs to be done on the enforcement side of the issue.
The new Air Passenger Travel Guide, previously known as the Aviation Passenger Charter, outlines advice for travellers at all stages of their journey, from planning and booking a trip to making the trip and returning to the UK.
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said: “Whether going on holiday, travelling for business or visiting loved ones, we all want our journeys to be smooth and without any hiccups, which is why the air passenger travel guide is so important.
“Having a one-stop shop of information and advice which is clear and concise will help improve the overall travel experience and make sure passengers are getting what they deserve.”
As part of the government’s update to the guide, which it will encourage travel operators to promote when customers book with them, it has also been improved for accessibility, with easy-red and British sign language versions coming soon, while all the accessibility information included has been collated into one section.
The update comes shortly after the government also announced plans to give airline passengers better protection while travelling in the UK, including ensuring wheelchair users have more power to claim compensation if their equipment is damaged in transit and mandating the use of alternative dispute resolutions.
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The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would also be given more powers in its regulatory role, such as the ability to issue fines over breaches of the law, something the organisation said it had long been calling for.
However, despite the attempt to ensure passengers knew their rights when travelling, Rocio Concha, the director of policy and advocacy for consumer protection organisation Which?, said that simply updating a guide to passenger rights had “little benefit” when there was no guarantee that the rights would be enforced.
Concha said: “Time and again, we see airlines routinely ignoring their legal obligations when disruption occurs, knowing that they will face no meaningful repercussions.
“It is imperative that No.10 takes action to show it is on the side of beleaguered travellers and commits to legislation to grant the CAA direct fining powers in the King’s Speech; only then will the travel rights and protections outlined in the new Air Passenger Travel Guide truly be worth the paper they’re written on.”