Air Passenger Rights after Brexit
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Since your passenger rights come from EU law, questions come up regularly on the passenger-rights landscape after the UK has exited the EU.
The brief answer is that there will be no real change to your entitlements, because:
- EU law will continue to apply if there is an extension of the ‘Article 50’ leaving process;
- Your rights stay the same under the Withdrawal Agreement;
- If the UK exits the EU without any deal or extension, the UK has put laws in place to replicate and preserve the rights you would have had, had Brexit not taken place.
Your post-Brexit rights explained
EU Regulation 261/04 gives you your rights to compensation, care and assistance and information in case of cancellation, involuntary denied boarding, or delay. (You can find out more about these rights here).
The EU Regulation applies to flights within the EU, and flights from an EU country to a non-EU country. It also covers flights from a non-EU country, to an EU country, so long as an EU airline is operating the flight. With a no-deal Brexit, certain flights departing from, and arriving in the UK and flights by UK carriers would fall into a gap left by the UK leaving the EU.
But legislation has now been made to cover any gaps left in EU Regulation 261/04 by Brexit. The UK legislation, takes the EU Regulation and all the rights you get under it, and amends it so that it covers:
- All flights departing from the UK no matter what airline;
- All flights departing outside the UK and landing in the UK, if the operating carrier is a EU or UK carrier,
- All flights departing outside the UK and landing in the EU, if the operating carrier is a UK air carrier.
Whether your claim falls under the EU Regulation or the UK legislation may matter very little in the end but the compensation amounts may be slightly different due to conversion rates.
Under the EU Regulation:
- Short distance flight delays – up to 1500km – could entitle you to €250 compensation
- Medium distance flight delays – between 1500km and 3500km – could entitle you to €400 compensation
- Long distance flight delays – over 3500km – could entitle you to €600 compensation
Under the UK legislation:
- Short distance flight delays – up to 1500km – could entitle you to £220 compensation
- Medium distance flight delays – between 1500km and 3500km – could entitle you to £350 compensation
- Long distance flight delays – over 3500km – could entitle you to £520 compensation
Remember, if your flight is covered by both the EU Regulation and the UK legislation, you cannot claim compensation twice.
Enforcing your rights
In case of a no-deal Brexit there will initially be some confusion caused by airlines moving their headquarters. There will also be more challenging legal questions about where airlines should be sued if they do not pay up. But with time, these uncertainties are expected to be resolved.
Compensation for delays and cancellations due to Brexit
In early 2019 the EU and UK put in place a ‘bare bones’ agreement in case of a no-deal Brexit, so flights can continue between the UK and EU. Airlines are quoted as saying that widespread disruptions are not expected.
Remember that EU Regulation and the UK legislation both allow airlines do defend themselves against a claim for compensation on the basis that there were extraordinary circumstances (such as air traffic management decision or safety restrictions that arise because of Brexit). However, airlines must still pay unless they can show that these circumstances could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. This will be an important factor in deciding whether claims arising from Brexit-related disruption are good or not.
Air Passenger Rights after Brexit – Checklist
- If your flight is cancelled, you can either be reimbursed for the price of your ticket or the airline must offer you an alternative connection as soon as possible.
- If you are delayed you are entitled to free drinks and food:
- After 2 hours, in case of flights with a travel distance of up to 1500km,
- After 3 hours, in case of flights with a travel distance between 1500 and 3500km,
- After 4 hours, for flights with a travel distance of more than 3500km.
Requirements to get your compensation:
- You found out about the cancellation less than 14 days before departure.
- You arrived at your destination 3 or more than 3 hours later than planned.
- You have checked in for your flight on time (generally no less than 45 minutes before departure).
- You encountered these problems on a flight operated no more than 6 years ago.
- The airline is responsible for the delay or the cancellation (e.g. technical fault or sick crew).
- The flight took off in the EU or UK (from any airline) or landed in the EU or UK (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU or UK).
- You can claim compensation even if you have travelled with a tour package or had a business trip.
Will passengers’ rights continue to be protected by the regulation once the UK has left the EU?
The UK legislation, takes the EU Regulation and all the rights you get under it so passengers’ protection continues.