The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is underway and uncertainty is building as 29 March looms. With Brexit on the horizon, leading law firm Bott and Co is experiencing an upturn in queries from passengers, wondering how this will impact flight travel and whether they will have the same rights, deal or no deal.
Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co sheds light on how Brexit will affect existing passenger rights laws.
“There is a lot of confusion amongst passengers about what will happen with their flights after Brexit. Although it remains to be seen whether a deal will be struck with the EU or whether Britain will exit with no deal, going off the information released by the government, passenger rights will remain the same.
The government has said that in the case of a no deal, flight rights will stay as they are and if there is a deal, it seems likely that the government will adopt EU Regulation 261/2004 into UK law and nothing will change.
The only way that flight delay claims will be affected is if the cause for a delay or cancellation was due to Brexit, compensation will not be due as this is likely to be considered an extraordinary circumstance.”
The firm’s advice to holidaymakers is to be as prepared as possible for potential disruptions and become familiar with their rights.
Benson explains, “Any decisions or restrictions made by air traffic control (ATC) to ground flights would be considered an extraordinary circumstance and unless the airline could have taken reasonable measures to have avoided the disruption, compensation wouldn’t be due.”
People whose flights are cancelled or delayed 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.
“Even when compensation is not due, passengers still have the right to care and assistance including being provided with food, drink, accommodation and replacement flights. Passengers whose flights are cancelled will be entitled to their flight costs back if they don’t choose to take an alternative transport offer provided by the airline”, Benson continues.
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, I believe this is fair and reasonable as these are events outside of their control.”
Overall, whatever happens, things should be less turbulent than expected for passengers, deal or no deal.
“It’s looking likely that things will remain the same, which is good news for passengers and their rights.” Benson concludes