On 23rd June, the UK voted to give up its position as a member of the EU. There are those who support the move and then, there are those who don’t. It’s almost 50-50. However, one thing is for sure, UK’s transition to non-EU status is going to be rife with problems. One sector that has been predicted to take a major hit is air travel. In fact, British travelers are already concerned about what’s going to happen to their compensation claims, which are actually made possible because of an EU directive.
The Current Situation
Truth be told, the situation is quite complex. However, there won’t be any instant changes. Services will continue as usual for the time being. This is because there are several possible scenarios that could unfold with regard to Brexit. For instance, Brexit may not actually happen. Though people voted for it, it isn’t a legally binding referendum. So, there is a small chance that the government might not go ahead with Brexit. On the other hand, even if the government did, the process is time-consuming. The government must first serve a notice under Article 50, after which, a period of 2 years is given to negotiate the terms of the exit.
Until then, compensations will be processed according to the EU directive. So, as of now, British are still covered under Regulation 261/2004. This means they can demand care and assistance for 2 hour delays and compensation of 3 hour delays. If there are flyers out there that have not claimed compensation for delays they might have faced in the last 6 years, this would be the right time to make a claim. The future situation is a bit shaky and you could end up losing the compensation all together.
There really is no way to predict what will happen after Brexit actually takes place. As stated earlier, there is a 2 year negotiation period, during which, the UK can either adopt laws and regulations from the EU, adapt them or completely do away with them. Regulation 261/2004 is one of these laws. If the UK does decide to adopt this directive, British travelers just might continue to enjoy the same level of compensation as they do right now.
However, if the UK adapts to the law and alters it; there could be legal challenges that travelers and airlines will be forced to deal with. On the other hand, if the UK drops the regulation. British travelers will be treated in a very different than what they are used to. For starters, they won’t receive any of the privileges that EU travelers receive.
To put it in the bluntest way possible, UK travelers might have to resort to sleeping on the airport floor if their flight is delayed. This might even be the case with English flights departing from the UK. The only thing that travelers can pin their hopes on is the fact that most airlines won’t be too gung-ho about getting rid of Regulation 261/2004. In fact, they might even end up supporting the compensation directive just to access European skies.