AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Charter flights


Flights are classed as either charter or scheduled. It is important to distinguish between the two to determine which company you need to complain to. Flights are chartered when the entire aircraft has been booked for a particular destination. Scheduled flights are those which leave at regular intervals with each seat on the flight available for sale. If you travel on a charter flight, your contract will be with the relevant tour operator, rather than the airline. Generally you will, therefore, find that you are bound by the tour operator's terms and conditions, which in turn, will bind you to the airline's conditions of carriage!

Charter flights are usually operated on a restricted basis, i.e. once or twice a week, on set days, usually to popular tourist holiday destinations, such as the Balearic Islands. Charter (and sometimes scheduled) airline companies operate these flights on behalf of a tour operator, or a number of tour operators sharing the same aircraft.

What is a package holiday?

Package holidays are booked through tour operators and are typically featured in traditional holiday brochures. Package holidays normally consist of at least a flight and accommodation, or a flight and car-hire, sold at an all-inclusive price.

For more information, see our 'Problems with package holidays' section.

Change of flight times

Flight times quoted at the time of booking (and on your confirmation invoice) are normally provisional only and subject to change, usually up to the point when tickets have been dispatched (and, on occasions after). If you are unhappy with the changes to your flight times, you may be able to cancel your flights (and holiday if it's a package) or receive compensation. This will depend on a number of factors.

For more information, see our 'Cancellation in terms of EU Regulations' and 'Delay in terms of EU Regulations' sections.

For flights outside the scope of the EU Regulations, see our 'Cancellation and delay outside the application of EU law' section.

Luggage problems

For more information on luggage problems see our 'Baggage problems' section.

Complaining about charter flight problems

For most complaints, you should complain directly to the tour operator that chartered the flight, rather than to the airline concerned. This is particularly the case if your flight formed part of a package holiday, as the Package Travel Regulations should protect you. This piece of legislation makes a tour operator liable for all aspects of package holidays, including flights, when they are booked as part of a package.

If your tour operator is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), it should acknowledge receipt of your complaint letter within 14 days, and provide a full and detailed response within 28 days. If it doesn't, it may be in breach of ABTA's Code of Conduct and may be fined.

For more information, see our 'Problems with holiday flights' section.