Around two thirds of major airlines have signed up for an independent complaints service for disgruntled passengers.

About 20 major airlines have agreed to join the Civil Aviation Authority-approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies.

The schemes will provide passengers who are dissatisfied with the way their airline has dealt with their case with a legally-binding decision on their complaint.

The authority says the 20 carriers signed up represent more than two thirds of the market by passengers carried and more are expected to follow.

However, airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Monarch,, Emirates and United Airlines were named by the Daily Mail as not yet signing up for one of the three approved schemes. 

Thomson Airways was the first to join in February, with British Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines, Ryanair and easyJet among the 20 who have committed to the ADR schemes.

CAA policy director, Tim Johnson, said: “Our research shows that 45% of air passengers that complained to their airline, airport or holiday company after experiencing a travel problem were dissatisfied with the outcome and almost six in ten were not satisfied with the redress provided.

“So clearly passengers expect more when they make a complaint about air travel

“If passengers don’t get a satisfactory outcome to their complaint from their airline, using an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution provider gives them a simple way to get a prompt, fair and binding decision on their dispute – meaning they don’t have to resort to court action.

“We believe this is a major step forward for passengers and are pleased to see a large number of airlines have signed up to ADR and are already giving their passengers this option.

“But we will continue to push for more airlines to sign up to ADR, so as many passengers as possible have access to efficient and effective dispute resolution if anything goes wrong with their flight to or from the UK.”

With three approved UK ADR bodies now functioning, the regulator has changed the way its own complaints handling service operates.

The CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team will now only assist and accept complaints from passengers of airlines not signed up to ADR schemes.