By DebbieH 04 Mar 2019 7 min read

How will a no-deal Brexit affect airline passengers?


Brexit is just days away, yet with such little time left, the situation doesn’t look to be any clearer.

Negotiations continue between Brussels and London, but the prospect of a ‘hard Brexit’ is putting stakeholders in the aviation sector on high alert. Key matters in the single market and customs union are yet to be clarified.

More importantly though, Brexit will introduce implications for travellers. Below, we’ve included a few tips suggested by Independent about travelling post-Brexit.

Could some flights between the UK and European Union be grounded in the event of a no-deal Brexit? We think unlikely – the latest announcement made on 27 February 2019 by the European Council seemingly dashes concerns. So you can still book with confidence, although if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, complex passport rules will come in to play.

At present, airline ground staff check that a British passport is valid to allow the holder onboard a flight to the EU. Post-Brexit (if it’s a no deal), they will need to check issue dates for every adult British traveller before boarding, which could delay UK aircraft departures.

There is also a possibility that some flights could be cancelled as a result of the changes affecting tight turnaround times.


What if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

Air passengers’ rights rules will remain the same, regardless.

The Civil Aviation Authority says: “Once the UK has left the EU, airlines would be required to meet their existing obligations.” So in the event of flight cancellation or severe delay, you will be entitled to meals, accommodation and an alternative flight home as necessary.

If you arrive at your destination three hours or more behind schedule, you will also be entitled to cash compensation of €250 or €400 (depending on distance) unless the airline can demonstrate the cause was “extraordinary circumstances”.



“Overflights” to destinations outside the EU – will they be affected?

These should not be affected, regardless of the outcome.


Will everything remain the same?

No. Fares are rising and choice is falling. The pound falling post referendum has increased costs in sterling for fuel and aircraft leases. The negative impact on the UK economy means that airlines are placing their aircraft elsewhere.

The impact will be intensified post-Brexit. While the UK is keen for “open skies”, there is no certainty that “EU27” will be content to allow British airlines unfettered competition against their own carriers after Brexit.

Links between the UK and eastern Europe also depend on commuters from countries including Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, as well as their family and friends. With fewer of them working in the UK, airlines may respond by cutting links.

Finally, the government’s stated policy is to remove the right for European Union citizens to visit the UK on a national ID card: “We intend to require all EU citizens to travel on a passport.”

This is likely to deter millions of prospective leisure and business visitors, who do not require a passport to visit dozens of other countries and may not judge it worth obtaining one just to visit the UK.”