Your rights on board a flight

Advice and Guidance

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  • Individuals using a service

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Stott vs Thomas Cook

In 2014, in a legal case (Stott v Thomas Cook), the Supreme Court decided that compensation for injury to feelings cannot be awarded where disability discrimination has occurred during embarkation, disembarkation or on board the aircraft. This is because an international convention (the Montreal Convention) limits the liability of air carriers.

What happened to Mr Stott?

Mr Stott is a permanent wheelchair user. When he booked his flight he requested a seat next to his wife, who he relies on to assist with his toilet needs, eating and changing his sitting position. Despite trying to ensure at check-in and at the departure gate that his needs would be met, Mr Stott was seated in an aisle seat in front of his wife. Mrs. Stott was unable to attend his needs discreetly, and had to crouch blocking the aisle.

If something goes wrong

Under the Montreal Convention, the amount of compensation you can receive for anything that happens on board an aircraft is limited to compensation for death or injury and for lost baggage. The courts are currently unable to award compensation for injury to feelings because of restrictions in the Montreal Convention that governs liability of airlines for losses and personal injury on international and domestic passenger flights.

If you don’t receive the assistance you’re entitled to, complain straight away to the airport or airline. You can also make a complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Watch: Mr Stott tell his story in his own words

Video 1 and 2: Mr. Stott’s interview

Last updated: 22 Apr 2016

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


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