Airline passengers made more than 12,000 complaints and queries to the UK’s Air Transport Users Council (AUC) in the past year, 11% up on the previous 12 months.

But the majority were doomed to disappointment, with the AUC winning compensation for just 3.2% of customers following cancelled flights – by far the biggest area of complaint.

The aviation consumer watchdog described the rise in complaints as “disappointing” in its annual report published today, given that European Commission regulations on delays, cancellations and denied boarding have clarified passengers’ entitlements.

However, the AUC also notes a rise in complaints related to online booking and check-in, and to charges for services such as baggage handling previously included in fares.

AUC chairman Tina Tietjen said: “The increase in complaints is partly explained by issues that have arisen out of changes to industry practices. The technology that has allowed passengers to book, amend reservations, and check-in online has brought its own problems.

“We have also received an increase in complaints about the extra charges airlines have introduced. Many passengers were concerned they were not getting value for money for the price they were paying.”

The AUC handled 12,307 complaints and enquiries in the year to the end of March, up from 11,077 the previous year – 3,770 related to cancelled flights, of which 120 won compensation.