The day the UK leaves the EU is nearing, and as we move closer to 29 March 2019, the way this will affect passenger rights to compensation has regularly come into question.
It remains to be seen whether a deal will be struck with the EU or whether Britain will exit with no deal. We answer your questions about claiming flight delay compensation post-Brexit, deal or no deal.
Once Britain has left the EU, will my rights under EU Regulation 261/2004 change?
The government has said that in the event of a Brexit no deal, passenger flight rights will remain the same. If there’s a deal, then it seems likely that the government will adopt EU Regulation 261/2004 into UK law and things will continue as they are.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provides that EU Regulations – as they are applied in the UK at the moment before we left the EU – will be converted into domestic law by the Act and will continue to apply until legislators in the UK decide otherwise.
According to the government, everything should stay the same, which is good news for passengers.
Will airlines be obliged to pay compensation for flights affected by Brexit?
Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are only entitled to compensation if a delay is deemed to be within the airline’s control or was caused by an event which is ‘inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier’.
EU Regulation 261/2004 is applicable to EU member states and countries not in the EU but that have adopted the regulation, e.g. Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
Flights that are affected by the restriction of air traffic due to Brexit would be classed as extraordinary circumstances and therefore not be eligible for flight delay compensation, unless the airline could have taken reasonable measures to have avoided the disruption.
Some airlines such as TUI, Jet 2 and Thomas Cook have already adjusted their terms and conditions, waiving their legal rights under EU Regulation 261/2004 for flights affected by Brexit, if the inability to operate flights as a result of leaving the EU arises. We believe this is fair and reasonable as these are events outside of their control and also not inherent in their normal activity.
Note: With the Easter break beginning on 5 April 2019, passengers should be prepared for possible disruptions.
What are my rights if my flight leaving the UK is delayed and the airline is registered in Europe? Will the flight be subject to both EU and UK rules?
It is true that a flight could be subject to both EU and UK rules but that’s nothing new. There are various countries that have their own passenger rights rules which overlap with EU rules.
Article 3 of EU Regulation 261 says: the rules will not apply if the passenger has already received benefits from another country. This is to stop people claiming twice for the same disruption.
If affected by a flight delay due to Brexit, what are my rights for care and assistance?
In all circumstances, airlines are still obliged to provide care and assistance (food, drink, refunds or replacement flights) to passengers under the current wording of EU Regulation 261/2004.
For cancelled flights, airlines will have to refund fares. For flights that can be rearranged, airlines will have a duty to find and provide passengers with replacement flights at the earliest available opportunity. Food and drink must be provided that is reasonable in relation to waiting times and overnight accommodation if necessary.
Download our free care and assistance flash card.
Will passengers be entitled to a refund for a cancelled flight?
Passengers whose flights are cancelled due to Brexit will still be entitled to the same rights under EU Regulation 261/2004; the only exception being that compensation will not be claimable.
If passengers are given more than 14 days’ notice by the airline that their flight has been cancelled, passengers are entitled by law to a full refund on the cost they paid for the flight or a replacement flight or comparable transport arrangements. The airline is responsible for providing one of these to the passengers.
Current and post-Brexit coverage of EU261:
|Departing from||Arriving to||Airline||Currently Covered||Post-Brexit|
|The UK||EU Member State||EU airline||Yes||Yes|
|The UK||EU Member State||Non EU airline||Yes||No|
|The UK||Non EU Member State||EU airline||Yes||No|
|The UK||Non EU Member State||Non EU airline||Yes||No|
|EU Member State||The UK||EU airline||Yes||Yes|
|EU Member State||The UK||Non EU airline||Yes||Yes|
|Non EU Member State||The UK||EU airline||Yes||No|
|Non EU Member State||The UK||Non EU airline||No||No|
Can additional costs that are lost be claimed back, such pre-paid hotel accommodation and car hire?
Additional costs that are lost due to a cancelled flight such as pre-paid accommodation, activities and even pre-paid ski equipment hire will not be claimable under EU Regulation 261/2004. We would recommend passengers keep all receipts and copies of transactions and talk to their travel insurance provider.
How can I find out more about my flight compensation rights post Brexit?
The government has come up with some guidance if you are concerned about your rights, post Brexit. If you need more information, please click here.