Airlines failing to pay out for flight delays

Airlines face being brought before the courts for failing to provide easy access to compensation for delayed flights and lost luggage under a clampdown by the aviation watchdog.

The Civil Aviation Authority has threatened to use its regulatory powers amid claims that airlines are falling short on the treatment of passengers during travel disruption. Research by the watchdog, published today, found that less than a third of passengers who were hit by a delay of two hours or more in their most recent flight were satisfied with how they were treated.

The study, which was based on a survey of 7,000 people conducted this year, also revealed that only 32 per cent were happy with the support provided when luggage was lost, stolen or damaged. Of those who registered a complaint over delays or lost luggage, 34 per cent said they were dissatisfied with compensation levels. Under rules introduced this year, all airlines must give passengers the opportunity of an independent appeal. It sets legally binding compensation or other forms of redress.

Most airlines have signed up to the system, although the CAA said that British carriers still failed to provide an outlet for independent complaints, including Virgin Atlantic, Monarch and Jet2. The CAA is understood to be preparing to lobby government to force all airlines to sign up next year.