Flight services in the UK are coordinated by a number of individual service providers, from travel agents who book the flight, to airports and airlines.
Airports are managed by different operators, such as BAA (formerly the British Airport Authority), which owns and operates the majority of British airports in the UK, including London Heathrow.
Airport operators are responsible for almost all aspects of the day-to-day running of the airports they own, such as providing airport security and ensuring the health and safety of the public.
The airlines themselves fulfil other responsibilities, such as:
The Department for Transport issued regulations that cover what we can and can't take through security. They apply to anyone travelling from any UK airport.
Before you book your ticket, make sure you find out about all the travel documents you need, such as passports, visas and inoculation certificates. If you don't have the right documents, you could be barred from getting on the plane or, if you manage to board the plane, you may be refused entry into the country when you arrive. You won't be able to claim a refund if this happens.
The best way to make sure you have the right documents is to contact the embassy or high commission of the destination country.
Flights are either chartered or scheduled. It's important to distinguish between the 2 to determine whom you need to complain to if things go wrong.
Flights are chartered when the entire aircraft has been booked for a particular destination on a restricted basis, e.g. once or twice a week. On the other hand, scheduled flights leave at regular scheduled times, such as daily, with each seat on the flight available for sale.
Charter airline companies operate their flights on behalf of a tour operator, or a number of tour operators sharing the same aircraft.
If you travel on a charter flight, your contract will be with a tour operator, rather than an airline. Generally, you'll be bound by the tour operator's terms and conditions, which in turn will bind you to the airline's conditions of carriage.
If you travel on a scheduled flight, your contract will be with the airline.
Unless it's specifically stated in the airline's terms and conditions of carriage, airlines have no legal obligation to provide:
Theis the UK's aviation regulator, controlling all flight paths and aircraft routes at UK airports. As well as regulating airlines, airports and National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the CAA are also responsible for setting airport charges at the London airports.
(IATA) is the governing body that regulates the airline industry.
Tour operators (or travel agents) book tickets for flights and package holidays. They're responsible for problems with services provided in a package holiday, such as problems with the charter flight or accommodation. The Package Travel Regulations 1992 makes tour operators liable for all aspects of a package holidays when they're booked as part of a package.
If your holiday is protected by the(ATOL), you're protected from losing money or being stranded abroad if your tour operator goes out of business. ATOL will refund you or arrange for you to finish your holiday and get home.
Passengers flying from any EU airport or on any EU airline whose flight is overbooked, delayed or cancelled are entitled to claim a fixed amount of damages under EU regulations.
For more information about passenger rights, see the following sections: