Some travelers in the United Kingdom will now have to pay £25 ($33) to have their airline complaints addressed.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is attempting to lighten its workload by shifting customer complaints to three “Alternative Dispute Resolutions” (ADRs), two of which will charge a fee for resolution that is only refundable if the customer’s complaint is deemed “successful.”
This type of resolution is not the first step in complaining: Only if a customer is dissatisfied with an airline’s response (or if they never hear back from a complaint), will they move onto an ADR. The ADR process is meant to save both airlines and travelers hassle by reaching a binding decision out of court.
However, some consumer groups worry that an up-front fee would discourage many travelers from even lodging their complaints.
“Some airlines have no concept of customer service. Anything that puts a further barrier in the way for passengers who have a complaint is unacceptable,” British Labour MP Rob Flello told The Sun.
So far, 19 airlines have moved their conflict resolution to an ADR.
The £25 charge is from the Center for Effective Dispute Resolution, which will deal with complaints from British Airways, easyJet and Thomas Cook travelers. NetNeutrals, another ADR, will charge a £10 fee, however they have not yet signed any airlines.
“easyJet’s current ADR was chosen based on its competence and suitability to provide alternative dispute resolution procedures for us,” the airline said in a statement. “This is a service easyJet pays a higher fee for than other ADR’s charge.”
The Retail Ombudsman—which represents Ryanair, Air Canada and EgyptAir—does not charge a fee, nor does söp, an ADR which represents Lufthansa, Swiss and Eurowings.
The CAA will continue to work for airlines that are not affiliated with an ADR. You can see the full list of airlines represented on the CAA’s website.