Travel after Brexit – air passenger rights

Last updated on March 18, 2019

Membership in the European Union provided UK travelers the freedom to fly anywhere in Europe. How will this advantage change after Brexit, when UK is set to leave EU in 29 March 2019?

Is it possible that any flights between United Kingdom and Europe would be grounded in the event of no deal Brexit? Unlikely. The latest announcements from the deals between UK and EU show that the flights should remain the same as in 2018 level. Thus air passengers could book flights with confidence.

However, what will happen if UK leaves EU with no deal? At present airline staff check only the passport validity for UK citizens to allow them on board. After no deal Brexit they will need to scrutinize passport issue dates for every adult UK  traveler before they are allowed on board. Sadly, this might delay flight departures and some of the flights might be even cancelled due to passport checking procedures as flights have tight schedules with little slack in the system.

What happens if flight is delayed or cancelled? No matter if there will be or won’t be Brexit deal with EU, Air Passenger Rights will remain the same. Legislation EU 261 will be applied for flights from UK to EU and from EU to UK (if carrier is EU based). Air passengers will have the right to get up to 600 EUR refund for flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding if the flight would be more than 3 hours late. Passengers who experience delayed cancelled or overbooked flight may check their possible compensation amount with our Flight Delay Compensation Calculator. Furthermore, air passengers must be provided with meals, beverages, internet and phone calls in cases of more than 2 hours flight delay.

Will everything in air travel remain the same? No, it is expected that some flight routes might be closed due to decreasing amount of passengers who are EU citizens and work in UK, such routes include Poland, Slovakia, Hungary etc.

The slump in the pound has made difficulties for airlines as costs in sterling for fuel and aircraft leases increased. For now the open skies is comfortable for UK carriers, but no one knows what will happen when UK leaves EU. Advantage of freedom to move within EU was the reason for UK low costs flights increase during membership in EU. There is no doubt EU will try to protect their own airlines from competition with UK carriers, such as Ryanair, easyJet.

Finally, UK government has already decided that EU citizens will have to travel to UK with passports, it will not be enough to show ID card as it was before Brexit. Possibly this disadvantage will decrease the amount of EU travelers to UK.