After the covid years

Air passenger complaints could reach record 1,000 in 2023

Three out of four planes take off within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time, but more than one-third of complaints are about delays. Archive photo: Maison Moderne

Three out of four planes take off within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time, but more than one-third of complaints are about delays. Archive photo: Maison Moderne

After the covid years--from 2020 to 2022--air passenger complaints could reach a record 1,000 this year, according to the ministry of consumer protection. More than half of the complaints concern cancellations.

2023 could be the year of all records, in terms of complaints. According to Luxembourg’s ministry of consumer protection, the total of 1,000 will not be far off from the record. It’s ten times more than ten years ago and twice as many as in 2022.

This does not necessarily mean that things are getting worse, but that consumers have begun to understand that they have rights and have also begun make sure they are respected.

Complaints about cancellations are still the majority (making up 55.9% of the complaints expected for 2023), ahead of delays (34.1%), denied boarding (3%) and other complaints (7%), according to the report presented on 17 July at Findel by the minister for consumer protection, Paulette LenertPaulette Lenert (LSAP), the director of the Luxembourg consumers’ union (Union Luxembourgeoise des Consommateurs, ULC), Aline Rosenbaum, and the director of the European Consumer Centre (CEC), Karin Basenach. Two-thirds of flights take off on time, according to Eurocontrol statistics, and 12.8% are five to ten minutes late. Delays that could give rise to compensation (three hours) are grouped under “delays of more than 60 minutes” (6.2%).

Carrier-passenger: a match ending in a tie

One-third (36.5%) of complaints are settled within two weeks, 41.9% between 15 and 90 days and 21.6% more than three months after they were lodged. 28.9% end in the carrier’s favour, 38.4% in the passenger’s favour... and 28.6% fall outside the national enforcement body’s remit.

The national enforcement body, which is responsible for enforcing these rights, will now receive complaints directly thanks to a new agreement between the ministry, the ULC and the CEC. “Our aim is to ensure that every air passenger in Luxembourg feels confident when travelling. That’s why we’re mobilising in this period of major holiday departures to better inform consumers about their rights as air passengers,” the minister emphasised.

It’s not easy: if you have a problem, you need to make a complaint to the carrier, then seek advice before making a complaint, then make a complaint if the carrier does not respond within two months or if the response is unsatisfactory. Consumers can expect to receive between €250 (for a flight of less than 1,500 km) and €400 (for a flight of more than 1,500 km), or even €600 (for a flight of more than 3,500 km outside the EU), in addition to the refund. The same applies to flights lasting more than three hours.

This article was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.