Passenger Complaints

Notes on new system for recording and processing passenger complaints

During the first half of 2013 there were significant changes both in the passenger complaints received by the CAA, and the ways in which we processes complaints. 

This information note aims to put the complaints in context given those changes, and they should be considered if the data is to be used for making historical comparisons.

Please note that the raw data presented is user-generated complaint data and has not been validated by the CAA - as such, we are unable to say what proportion of claims can be considered valid.

The tables published consist of:

1.      2013 Q1 Jan-Mar all complaints data

2.      2013 Q2 Apr-Jun all complaints data

3.      2013 Q1 Jan-Mar complaints by reason

4.      2013 Q2 Apr-Jun complaints by reason

5.      2013 Q1 year to end of March 2013 complaints by airline

6.      2013 Q2 year to end of June 2013 complaints by airline 

View the passenger complaints data for 2013  

The complaint reason shown in the “reason” files is in line with the “new classification” of complaint reasons, set out below.

The “airline” tables include a calculation for the number of complaints received per million passengers carried by airline in the previous 12 months, Due to the changes in reporting per note 2 below, these figures should be treated with caution, as may not be comparable by airline.

Future reporting of passenger complaints received by the CAA will take place on a quarterly basis, with publication within three months of the end of the quarter.

1.     Change in how the CAA handles complaints

In March 2013, the CAA implemented a new system for recording and processing passenger complaints. This change involved to a transition period during the first half of 2013 where both systems were in operation, prior to the full closure of the old system in Q2 2013. Future reporting will be from the new system only.

Key changes between the two systems include:

a)     The new system allows for multiple reasons for a complaint to be recorded for a single complainant. This may increase the number of complaints recorded per passenger, but gives a better reflection of the issues passengers have raised. Table 1 below shows the number of complaints recorded in each quarter under the two systems, and Table 2 summarises the relationship between the number of complaints recorded and the number of complainants in each quarter.

Table 1: 

SystemQ1 2013Q2 2013Total

Table 2:

Number of complainsQ1 2013 - Number of complaints in totalQ1 - Number of complainants in total Q2 2013 - Number of complaints in totalQ2 2013 - Number of complainants in total

b)     There have been some changes in the categorisation of complaint reason between the two systems. Table 3 below shows how the complaints recorded under the old system have been reclassified in order to align with the new system to create the aggregated datasets. For historical comparison before Q1 2013, datasets will also need to be reclassified according to the new categories which will be used going forwards.

Table 3:

Old ClassificationNew Classification
Baggage AllowanceBaggage
Check-in problemsAt the airport
Denied BoardingDenied boarding
Diverted FlightDiversion
Ground ServicesAt the airport
In-flight ServicesIn flight
Mishandled baggageBaggage
Missed connectionsMissed connection
Missed departurePre-departure
Reservation IssuesReservations
Scheduled ChangesSchedule changes
SeatingIn flight
SecurityAt the airport
Special NeedsSpecial needs
Taxes, fees and chargesTaxes, fees and charges
Ticketing / refundRefunds
N/AAirline ceases trading
N/A Medical
N/AReduced mobility support

2.      Changes in the legal basis for airline complaints handling

The sharp increase in the number of complaints received relates to the outcome of a legal case in October 2012. This has given rise to a large number of historical complaints in the first half of 2013. Due to the nature of the ruling, the biggest impact has been on the complaints received for charter airlines, which tend to operate delayed flights, rather than cancel and reschedule as schedule airlines tend to. Table 4 below shows the year to which the complaints received in Q1 and Q2 2013 related.     

Table 4:

YearQ1 2013Q2 2013Grand Total
No year recorded185320505