Irish passengers may have to pay to complain about airlines

Some arbitrators approved by UK’s aviation authority charge to process complaints

Ireland’s Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) says that Irish residents who have flown from UK airports would have their complaints processed in that jurisdiction, and may have to pay a fee to do so.   Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Ireland’s Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) says that Irish residents who have flown from UK airports would have their complaints processed in that jurisdiction, and may have to pay a fee to do so. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

 

Irish passengers flying onwards from UK airports could have to pay to have complaints against airlines processed under a new regime introduced by Britain’s aviation regulator.

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority has approved a number of arbritators, known as alternative dispute resolution bodies, to deal with complaints against airlines where passengers are not satisfied with the carrier’s initial response.

A number of these bodies charge for their services, including the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, hired recently by Thomas Cook and British Airways, an airline regularly used by Irish people and part of the same group as Aer Lingus.

According to the Republic’s Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), Irish residents who have flown from UK airports would generally have their complaints processed under the regime that applies in that jurisdiction.

As a consequence, a number of them could end up having to pay for this service. The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution charges £25 (€30) upfront to handle complaints, but the company says that it refunds the cash if the complaint succeeds.

Large numbers of Irish people fly British Airways to long-haul destinations not served directly from here, connecting with its services at UK airports, particularly Heathrow. The airline also flies between Dublin and London.

Aer Lingus shares its parent, International Consolidated Airlines’ Group, with British Airways, and feeds passengers to long-haul services flown by its sister carrier.

Approving arbitrators

Irish airline Ryanair has recruited the Retail Ombudsman to handle UK complaints. That body does not charge. Aer Lingus said yesterday that it is not using any alternative dispute resolution organisation and added that it is not obliged to do so.

The arbritators are the next step for a passenger who is not happy with an airline’s response to their complaint, or if the company has failed to answer it within eight or more weeks. All aviation regulators encourage customers to try to resolve any issues they have with the airline in question first of all.

Under EU regulations, complaints against airlines, such as those for cancellations, delays, denials of boarding or downgrading are processed in the jurisdiction from which the flight took off.

Consumer complaints

News that customers could face charges for complaining against airlines drew fire from politicians recently. Rob Flello, a Labour Party member of parliament who sits on the UK legislature’s transport committee, described it as “disappointing and outrageous”.

Air travel is one of the most frequent sources of consumer complaint with a report from Ireland’s European Consumer Centre this week saying air travel accounted for 41 per cent of complaints requiring its direct intervention.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.