MSE News

Airline passengers to be compensated for delays of 1hr+ on UK domestic flights under new Government plans - here's what's happening


Airline passengers on domestic flights within the UK could be compensated if their trip is delayed by just one hour under sweeping new proposals put forward by the Government. The plans also include strengthening consumers' rights to complain when the airline won't help in the first instance. 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps, who announced the plans today (31 January), said the shake-up will "aim to bolster airline consumer protection and rights". A Government consultation on the proposals will now run until 27 March 2022, with a response expected to be published within three months. It isn't yet clear when the plans will take force should they be approved.  

For more information on whether you can get your money back - and compensation on top - following a delayed or cancelled flight, see our Flight Delays guide.

Passengers on domestic flights delayed by less than three hours could be eligible for compensation

Under the proposals, passengers who are delayed by at least one hour on a UK domestic flight will be entitled to compensation under the following rules: 

Proposed compensation for UK domestic flight delays

Over 1 hour but less than 2 25% of ticket price
Over 2 hours but less than 3 50% of ticket price
Over 3 hours 100% of ticket price

What's yet to be determined though, is whether compensation would be due in all circumstances, for example, whether bad weather means passengers can't claim. It also isn't clear if the amount to be compensated would just cover the cost of the actual flight ticket, or include any add-ons. 

This is a shake-up to the current system where passengers departing from a UK/EU airport, regardless of the airline, OR where a UK/EU airline lands at a UK/EU airport are entitled to compensation for delays that are the airline's fault.

Here, you can claim if you're three or more hours late reaching your final destination with compensation based on both the delay and the distance travelled - see the table below for the full details. 

Current compensation rules on flight delays

Up to 1,500km 3+ hours £220 
1,500km – 3,500km 3+ hours £350 
3,500km+ 3-4 hours £260 
4+ hours £520

To compare the two schemes, we've taken a flight from Gatwick to Edinburgh, which currently costs £50.99. If you were delayed by two hours under the current rules, you would not be entitled to compensation. But under the proposals you'd be entitled to roughly £25.50 (50% back). Face a delay of three hours though, and you'd get £220 back under the existing rules, compared to £50.99 (the price of the flight) under the new rules. 

The Department for Transport has proposed that the two schemes run alongside each other, with one covering UK flights and one covering international travel.  

Greater rights to complain to be introduced

In addition to new rules on compensation, the Department for Transport also plans to make it compulsory for ALL airlines to be signed up to an aviation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. This would make it easier for passengers to escalate complaints that cannot be settled between just them and the airline, without the need to go to court. Currently, airline membership to ADRs is voluntary. 
It's also been proposed that aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has its powers strengthened. For example, it would be given the right to fine airlines directly for breaches where appropriate. 

Wheelchair users whose items have been damaged will have better refund rights 

Better protection for passengers on UK domestic flights whose wheelchairs or mobility scooters have been damaged during the flight will also be introduced. At present, airlines are not mandated to cover the cost of repairs, even if an item is damaged while in their care. 

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!