Air Passenger Rights after Brexit
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), commonly known as Brexit, had significant implications for various aspects of UK legislation. One crucial area affected by this transition was air passenger rights. Prior to Brexit, the UK had adhered to the European Regulation EC261/04 (EC261), which safeguards passenger rights in the event of flight disruptions.
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The EC261, established by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, provides air passengers with essential rights and protections. It covers various scenarios such as flight delays, cancellations, denied boarding, and mishandled baggage. These regulations significantly contributed to enhancing passenger satisfaction and strengthening consumer protection within the EU.
Incorporation of EU261 into UK Domestic Law:
Since Brexit was legally fully enacted on 1 January 2021, the UK no longer counts as an EU country and UK airlines are no longer EU airlines. To ensure continuity and maintain air passenger rights post-Brexit, the UK government decided to incorporate the core principles of EC261 into UK domestic law. This incorporation was achieved through the enactment of the Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (“UK261”).
This means that:
- The rights under the EC261 Regulation will continue to apply with minor amendments brought by the UK261 Regulation;
- Your rights stay the same under the Withdrawal Agreement;
- As mentioned above, the UK has put laws in place to replicate and preserve the rights you would have had, had Brexit not taken place, the UK261 Regulation included.
Your post-Brexit rights explained
The EC261 Regulation gives you the right 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 EC261 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. The UK261 Regulation takes the EC261 Regulation and all the rights you get under it, and amends it so that it applies:
- to passengers departing from a UK airport; and
- to passengers departing from an airport located in a country other than the UK to an airport situated in:
§ the UK if the operating air carrier of the flight concerned is either an EU/EEA carrier or a UK air carrier; or
§ the EU/EEA if the operating air carrier of the flight concerned is a UK air carrier.
Passengers therefore enjoy the same coverage between the UK and EU regimes as in the previous regime.Furthermore, any claim brought in the UK arising out of a qualifying delay or cancellation must be brought under UK261 Regulation regardless of the date of the flight in question. EC261 Regulation claims can still be made against UK carriers, but only in EU Member States. On certain routes there will be overlapping coverage of both the UK and the EU regimes, but we will help you decide which Regulation is better for you.
Whether your claim falls under the EC261 Regulation or the UK261 Regulation may matter very little in the end, apart from the fact that the compensation amounts may be slightly different due to conversion rates.
Under the EC261 Regulation:
- Short distance flight delays – up to 1500 km – could entitle you to €250 compensation
- Medium distance flight delays – between 1500 km and 3500 km – could entitle you to €400 compensation
- Long distance flight delays – over 3500 km – could entitle you to €600 compensation
Under the UK261 legislation:
- Short distance flight delays – up to 1500 km – could entitle you to £220 compensation
- Medium distance flight delays – between 1500 km and 3500 km – could entitle you to £350 compensation
- Long distance flight delays – over 3500 km – could entitle you to £520 compensation
Remember, if your flight is covered by both the EC261 Regulation and the UK261 Regulation, you cannot claim compensation twice, but we will help you decide which Regulation is better for you.
Compensation for delays and cancellations after Brexit
Remember that EC261 Regulation and the UK261 Regulation both allow airlines to defend themselves against a claim for compensation on the basis that there were extraordinary circumstances (such as air traffic management decisions 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 1500 km,
- After 3 hours, in case of flights with a travel distance between 1500 and 3500 km,
- After 4 hours, for flights with a travel distance of more than 3500 km.
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.
Are passengers’ rights protected by the UK261 regulation?
To ensure continuity and maintain air passenger rights post-Brexit, the UK government decided to incorporate the core principles of EC261 into UK domestic law.
We will be happy to help you in case of flight problems with the airline for:
We have already been able to help with problems at the following airports, among others
We have already taken successful action against these and more airlines
Your flight did not go as planned?
In the event of flight delays, cancellations and overbooking, passengers may be entitled to compensation or ticket reimbursement. Flightright enforces your rights.