UK ombudsman to champion air passenger complaints

Air passengers in Britain are to get their own ombudsman service to take on their complaints against airlines – but it could be next year before it is ready to help the public with their travelling problems.

Flight delay or cancellations will be taken on for unhappy passengers by the new Ombudsman Service when it gets up and running next year

Flight delay or cancellations will be taken on for unhappy passengers by the new Ombudsman Service when it gets up and running next year Image by son Tester Guerilla Future / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which is Britain’s aviation regulator, has already launched a consultation for the creation of an ombudsman-style scheme for fliers with a gripe. Now MoneySavingExpert.com reports that Ombudsman Services this week became the first body to get the stamp of approval from the CAA to champion the cause of passengers unhappy with what they have encountered while travelling by air.

Lost luggage could be a reason passengers go to the new Ombudsman Service

Lost luggage could be a reason passengers go to the new Ombudsman Service Image by Kenneth Lu / CC BY 2.0

One on the key advantage of the new service is that it will have the power to force carriers to pay their passengers compensation if planes are delayed or cancelled. Up to now regulators across Europe have not got the authority to get the airlines to pay up in the event of an adverse finding.

However a drawback could be that it is not compulsory for carrier companies to become members – so the service can only succeed if the airlines join.

The Ombudsman service won’t be the only operation to take on complaints against airlines, but they are the UK’s biggest multi-sector dispute resolution provider – a fact that should carry its own clout.

Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith pointed out that they were experts in the sector and they could bring this experiences and knowledge to the aviation sector as well.

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