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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 23:40 GMT 00:40 UK
Passenger complaints soar
Airline passengers
Airline passengers are standing up for their rights
Complaints from airline passengers about flight delays and cancellations more than doubled last year.

Written complaints received by the Air Transport Users' Council (AUC) rose by 45% and telephone complaints were up 10% on the previous year to make a combined total of 5,139.

While delays headed the list of written complaints in the 12 months to the end of March 2001, mishandled baggage topped the telephone league of grumbles.

The council's chairman Ian Harmer said the figures showed passengers were being let down.

We are particularly concerned about the continuing increase in complaints and enquiries about lost or damaged luggage

Ian Hamer, Air Transport Users Council
He said: "We are particularly concerned about the continuing increase in complaints and enquiries about lost or damaged luggage.

"This year's increase follows a similar rise last year.

"We have called repeatedly for publication of airline mishandled baggage statistics.

"Publication will not in itself make the problem go away, but we believe that the 'name and shame' effect will provide a strong incentive to airlines and their agents to do better."

Complaints about cancellations rose 124%, although this was partly due to disruption following a breakdown of London air traffic control computers in June last year, according to the AUC.

Baggage handling

The AUC found there was "mounting evidence of airlines cancelling flights for commercial reasons, often with little obvious concerns for the effects on passengers' travel plans".

On baggage, the council identified a "particularly worrying and continuing trend" in bags being lost on connecting flights.

Complaints file
1,417 written complaints - up 45%
3,722 telephone complaints - up 10%
It also feels existing regulations meant there was "little incentive for airlines to seek to ensure that the bags actually make the connections with their owners".

Mr Hammer said it was "highly regrettable" that firm proposals to improve European air traffic management as a whole had not been put forward.

He said: "Passengers will meanwhile continue to suffer delays arising from congestion in the skies."

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See also:

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