23 October, 2023

Air travel guidance refreshed to give passengers more clarity on their rights

Updated guidance explains what passengers need to know about their rights and responsibilities when flying.

As millions of people are expected to travel through UK airports over the upcoming half term, the Department for Transport (DfT) has refreshed the newly named Air passenger travel guide, making it even easier for passengers to know their rights and responsibilities when they travel. 

Formerly known as the aviation passenger charter, it details what people can expect from airlines, travel agents, tour operators and airports, and what to do if things don’t go to plan.

This includes advice on what to do if flights are cancelled or delayed, if baggage goes missing, and the rights of disabled passengers, as well as guidance on how to complain if passengers feel they have been treated unfairly. 

Not only does it help passengers in these stressful situations, the travel guide also provides general advice for all aspects of your journey, such as what to expect at passport control, what you can bring through UK customs and how to manage connecting flights.

It also reminds passengers to regularly check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FDCO) website for the latest security and safety advice before booking travel, as well as what counts as an extraordinary circumstance when compensation isn’t available.

The advice also makes clear that while security checks are changing over the coming months, they should continue to be prepared to remove electronics and small liquids from their bags when travelling by air. 

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said: 

"Whether going on holiday, travelling for business or visiting loved ones, we all want our journeys to be smooth and without any hiccups, which is why the air passenger travel guide is so important.

Having a one-stop shop of information and advice, which is clear and concise, will help improve the overall travel experience and make sure passengers are getting what they deserve."


As part of a regular review to ensure it remains as useful as possible for passengers, the travel guide will also soon contain British Sign Language and easy-read versions and accessibility information is now in one collated and convenient section, making it easier for disabled passengers to find out how to book assistance at the airport and on the plane. 

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association, said:

"There are lots of rights in place to protect people who are heading off on holiday, particularly if they are caught up in delays or cancellations. But your rights do vary depending on what you booked – with those on a package holiday enjoying greater protection.

The air passenger travel guide gives a good outline of what travellers can expect and ABTA is also on hand to guide our members’ customers and offer additional cover through the ABTA code of conduct."

DfT has recently committed to strengthen the powers of the Civil Aviation Authority and mandate alternative dispute resolutions that make it easier for consumers to escalate complaints.

To encourage airlines and operators to promote the travel guide, Aviation Minister Baroness Vere has written to 30 partners in the aviation industry to encourage the use of the guide on individual booking websites – so from the moment they book, passengers have the information they need for their whole journey – without the need to go searching.