Occasionally, if you want to take your complaint with an airline further then you will have no option but to go to court.
If the airline has rejected your complaint and neither PACT nor an independent alternative dispute resolution body have been unable to intervene successfully, a court case is the best way to force the issue.
Have you tried all other options?
The small claims court is usually the most appropriate place for airline disputes. But before you resort to this, make sure you have pursued all other options available to you:
- Call and write to your airline, making sure you have escalated the issue to the highest level (usually the Chief Executive’s office).
- Log your claim with the Passenger Advice and Complaints Team (PACT) team.
- Contact our advice and complaints team on 0330 022 1916 to discuss the situation and whether there might be another way to resolve it.
Are you sure your claim is valid?
Taking your complaint to court is a significant step. It can take time and effort to prepare your argument and the process can be stressful.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do it. However, before you take things further, revisit your rights and be confident you can convincingly argue your claim. In particular, check the rules on extraordinary circumstances and check the list of flights that the CAA previously investigated.
It can be a good idea to seek legal advice at this point. Check your home insurance to see if you have legal cover.
What to do next
There are a number of places to go for guidance about making a small claim:
- GOV.UK explains how to make a court claim for money
- Your local Citizens Advice can answer your questions
- Learn more from the following Courts and Tribunals Services
If you need to make a claim under the ATOL scheme or have an enquiry about a holiday company please see our ATOL section.
If they are a member of one, you can also contact the company's trade association (e.g. the ABTA or Association of Independent Tour Operators) - these associations have codes of conduct for their members and will offer arbitration services through which you can pursue complaints.
If they are not a member of any organisations you could contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you have already made a written complaint to an airline or airport on a health matter and you are not satisfied with the outcome, the CAA Aviation Health Unit may be able to help.
They will need a written letter or email containing all relevant details, and copies of any correspondence, before they can officially take up a complaint, but you are welcome to call them first with any queries.
Civil Aviation Authority
Beehive Ring Road
Telephone: 01293 573 674
Complaints relating to this should be addressed to the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.
The Consumer Council
Floor 3, Seatem House
28-32 Alfred Street
Write to: Freepost The Consumer Council
Tel: Free Phone 0800 121 6022
Or (028)902 51600
We understand that some consumers use claim management companies to assist with their cases.
The Claim Management Company, Flight Reclaim Ltd, has ceased trading and any ongoing cases registered by this company have been placed on hold. Any consumer that wishes to proceed with their case, or did not receive information from Flight Reclaim Ltd about the conclusion of their case and the Civil Aviation Authority's opinion, can email our passenger advice and complaints team at firstname.lastname@example.org, including their Civil Aviation Authority case reference. The team will update the contact details on the case and proceed with cases that are within the team's remit
If you have been booked on a flight in the last three years that was cancelled or delayed by over 3 hours, we would like to hear how satisfied you were with your airline's response by filling in our survey.
This code of practice explains the role of the CAA's Passenger Advice and Complaint Team.
Improving choice and value
One of our key objectives is to improve choice and value when you fly. We aim to promote competitive markets, help you make informed decisions and help you if you have a problem or complaint against an airline or airport.
Dealing with your complaints
We provide advice about your complaints against airlines or airports. We try to help resolve any disputes you have with an airline or airport and ensure you receive what you're legally entitled to.
To do this we aim to be:
- Open. We will share all the information we can with you. If we can't help, we'll tell you promptly and advise if there are any other organisations able to offer assistance.
- Helpful. We aim to answer emails and telephone calls politely and constructively. We are always helpful and courteous.
Although we always strive to provide a response as soon as possible, this is subject to receiving a prompt response from the airline. Our responses may also be delayed during widespread disruption, for instance if UK airports are closed due to snow, when we receive more enquiries than usual.
Where we think that a passenger has a genuine case against an airline, we will do our best to secure a solution as quickly as possible. However, we are not able to resolve all complaints. For example if:
Before complaining, please check whether or not your issue is covered by PACT.
How you can help us
Please review our information on how to resolve travel problems.
Before you contact us regarding a complaint about a flight, also make sure you:
- Review your rights when a flight is disrupted.
- Check that the circumstances of your disruption are covered under EU law.
- Contact your airline directly. We are unable to help unless you have tried to resolve things with the airline first
When you do contact us, to help us deal with your query quickly:
- Be clear about what help you need from us.
- Have your flight details and any correspondence to hand.
- Be polite and reasonable in your dealings with our staff, we reserve the right to end phone calls where abusive language is used.
The information you supply to us will be used by us to provide advice or resolve your complaint. We will use and look after your personal information in accordance with our General Privacy Notice.
If you have a complaint about how we manage your personal information, please tell us. If we cannot resolve the issue you also have the right to refer your complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office.
Complaint about a service
- You can find how to complain about a service you received here.
Enquiries involving sensitive data about you or another person are handled with care and in accordance with our data protection obligations. For further information see our Fair Processing Notice for more information.
If it is necessary for you to send supporting documents to our offices, it is important that you do not send original documentation as we routinely destroy all paperwork (using a secure method) once it has been scanned into our electronic systems.