The CAA’s complaints team cannot handle enquiries and complaints made by consumers about cancelled or delayed flights, and refunds due to COVID-19. Please follow this link to COVID 19 guidance for passengers.
Making an informal complaint
We recommend you try an informal approach to resolve your issue in the first instance as it could be quicker and might be all that is needed to sort things out.
Even though it may be informal, we should still tell you what can be done to deal with your complaint and how and when we can respond. If this informal route is not suitable for your particular complaint or you have already tried to resolve an issue this way you may choose to take a more formal approach.
Making a formal complaint
We have a two-stage complaints process. At each stage, it helps us to deal quickly with your complaint if you can state that you are making a complaint, set out clearly your concern, give us as much information as possible, and include any documents or correspondence in support of your complaint, and explain what outcome you are expecting, for example, what action you would like us to take.
On receipt of your complaint, we will ask an appropriate manager in the relevant department or team to deal with it. We expect most complaints to be resolved at this stage.
If you are dissatisfied with this response, you may request a review by a senior manager in the relevant department or team. This may be a Head of Department or Director. You should request a review of the original Stage one response within 28 days of receiving it.
How to complain
External Response Team (Complaints)
Civil Aviation Authority
Beehive Ring Road
Our complaint handling standards
- A complaint can be expressed in writing via email, our online form, or letter
- We will make all reasonable adjustments to the complaints process to ensure that you are not disadvantaged in making your complaint
- We will treat all complaints seriously
- We will treat you fairly and courteously
- We will deal with your complaint promptly
- We will acknowledge initial receipt of a written complaint within five working days of receipt
- We will send you a full reply within 20 working days of receipt of the complaint unless you are notified otherwise, reasons behind our delay will be explained and we will tell you when you can expect our response
- If you ask for our response to be reviewed in line with Stage two of our Complaints Procedure, we will acknowledge this within 5 working days of receipt, and respond fully within 20 working days
- All complaints will be logged so that we can monitor the types of complaints received, the time taken to respond to them, and identify the best way of dealing with them,
- We will use our complaints as an opportunity to learn from your experiences to develop and improve our services.
- We will publish information in our annual report and provide regular reports to our Executive Team and Board on our complaint handling performance.
- We will handle your personal information in accordance with the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018.
When we get things wrong we will:
- Accept responsibility
- Explain what went wrong and why
- Put things right by making any necessary changes required
If you remain dissatisfied
If, having followed all stages of our internal complaints process, you are still not satisfied, you can contact the CAA’s Corporate Complaints Specialist by emailing email@example.com and ask for your complaint to be referred to an Independent Complaints Assessor (ICA). You must have completed all internal complaint stages before you do this, and your request should be made within 6 months of receiving our Stage two response.
The ICA is:
- independent of DfT and the Civil Aviation Authority
- not a civil servant
The ICA looks at whether we have:
- handled your complaint appropriately
- given you a reasonable decision
There is on cost to you to have your complaint assessed by an ICA.
The ICA will need to see all the letters and emails between us. We aim to acknowledge receipt and send details to the ICA within 15 working days of you asking us to pass your complaint to them. The ICA will decide how best to deal with your case and will then contact you. The ICA will aim to review your case within 3 months and they will tell you if they expect it to take longer.
When the ICA has completed their review the will contact you with their findings and any recommendations they consider appropriate to both you and us. This ends their involvement with your case.
The ICA can review complaints about:
- bias or discrimination
- unfair treatment
- poor or misleading advice
- failure to give information
- unreasonable delays
- inappropriate staff behaviour
The ICA can’t review complaints about:
- government, departmental or DfT body policy
- matters where only a court, tribunal or other body can decide the outcome
- legal proceedings that have already started and will decide the outcome
- an ongoing investigation or enquiry
- the handling of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
- the handling of Subject Access Requests made under the Data Protection Act
- personnel and disciplinary decisions or actions
- the exercise of professional judgment by a specialist, including, for example, the clinical decisions of doctors.
An ICA cannot usually review any complaint that:
- has not completed all stages of our complaints process
- is more than 6 months old from the date of the final response from us
If your complaint falls within either of these categories please explain why you believe it should be reviewed on an exceptional basis by an ICA. The CAA may send your explanation with your complaint to the ICA.
An ICA cannot review any complaint that has been, or is being, investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Your personal information
When you make a complaint to the CAA, your personal information will be used by us, and where appropriate by the Department for Transport and their appointed Independent Complaints Assessors, for the purposes of handling your complaint, producing anonymised statistical information and seeking to improve services through lessons learnt.
Further information about how each DfT body or the Department for Transport look after personal information can be found in the Department’s information charter (available on the DfT website).
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
If, following an ICA review, you do not agree with its outcome, you can contact your Member of Parliament (MP) and ask for your complaint to be referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).
The PHSO can carry out independent investigations into complaints that injustice has been caused by maladministration on the part of UK government departments and some public bodies, including the CAA.
You can find out who your MP is and write to them at:
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Airlines and airports have their own complaints policies and procedures; therefore any complaints should be directed to the airline or airport concerned directly.
However, if you have already approached the airline or airport and are dissatisfied with their response you can refer your complaint to:
If you have an ATOL claim, due to the unique nature of the failure of an ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) holder, there is a separate policy and procedure should you wish to make a claim. Details on how to make an ATOL claim can be found here.
Any complaints relating to CAA staff, processes, and services are dealt with in line with the CAA complaints process as set out in the Complaints about CAA staff and services section above.
The CAA has no authority over aircraft noise as it is currently not a statutory nuisance. It is not covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or the Noise Act 1996.
All aircraft noise complaints should be directed to the airport concerned directly. Government policy on the control of aircraft noise is the responsibility of the Department for Transport (DFT). Military aircraft is covered by different rules and any complaints relating to military aircraft noise should be directed to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
You can make an enquiry or complaint about the use of UK airspace. The FCS1521 form can be used to log any noise complaint and also to enquire further
The CAA Aviation Health Unit is an advisory service intended to provide medical guidance on health issues related to or affected by flying. It has no enforcement function, but the team may be able to signpost you to further resources to assist you with any complaints related to health matters and travelling.
They can be contacted as follows:
- Email: AHU@caa.co.uk
- Post: Aviation Health Unit, Aviation House, Beehive Ring Road, Crawley, West Sussex, RH6 OYR
Persistent or vexatious complaints
If a complainant becomes unreasonably persistent or vexatious, we may choose not to deal with subsequent complaints in accordance with our Unacceptable and Unreasonable Behaviour policy.
The PHSO defines unreasonably persistent complainants as: “those who, because of the frequency or nature of their contact with the authority, hinder the authority’s consideration of their or other people’s complaints.”
We publish quarterly statistics of complaint performance and lessons learned.