Airline complaints soarPassengers annoyed about cancellations and delays

21 July 2006

Airport sign directing travellers to the terminal.

Complaints from air travellers almost trebled last year according to figures from the official passenger watchdog.

More than 6,000 written complaints were received by the (AUC)  - nearly two-thirds of which were about cancellations and delays, while gripes about mislaid baggage also increased.

The AUC had forecast a big rise in complaints following passengers being given more rights under a new European Commission regulation regarding denied boarding, cancellations and delays.

Written complaints about cancellations rocketed from 297 in 2004/05 to 1,983 in 2005/06, with complaints about delays rising from 436 to 1,969.

At the same time telephone complaints about delays rose from 446 to 711 while telephone complaints about cancellations increased from 427 to 583.

There were also sharp rises in the number of written complaints about overbooking and ticketing issues.

Too many obstacles

AUC chairman Tina Tietjen said: 'We know from discussions with airlines that, for the most part, they have worked hard to ensure that passengers receive their entitlements under the new (EC) regulation.

'However, the main message coming out of our complaints work appears to be that company policy is still not consistently applied at ground level. There remain too many occasions when those suffering delays and cancellations are often not getting their full entitlements.'

She went on: 'We urge airline management to do more to ensure that passengers do receive these entitlements as a matter of course. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the complaints we receive under the regulation over the year ahead. And, where appropriate, we will continue to pass on details of possible breaches of the regulation to the Civil Aviation Authority.'

Which? travel spokesman, Bob Tolliday, said: 'Many passengers are still not getting the compensation they are entitled to from airlines for delays and cancellations. Airlines are putting too many obstacles in the way of passengers to obtain their rights and there needs to be a change in attitude in the industry.'