The Impact of COVID-19 on Flights in the UK – 2024 Guide

It’s no news that the COVID-19 pandemic affected every sector, whether positively or negatively. Like other industries, the airline industry didn’t see it coming. By the end of 2024, a report showed that UK airlines reported only 73.8 million passengers for the year, most of which travelled before the pandemic. According to the report, the last time such a number was recorded was in the 1970s.

Many flights had to be cancelled while agencies like stepped up to help affected passengers get compensated properly. Although the pandemic wasn’t the airline’s fault, it was and still is a major hit and setback for the industry.

What Happens When a Flight Gets Cancelled?


Different airlines have different policies but for airlines in the UK, the EU Regulation 261/2004 works as a general law to help passengers claim their rights. However, no one predicted the impact of the pandemic, hence, a lot of adjustments have been made based on the airline or flight booked.

For a cancelled flight, you’ll be presented with options to choose from, whether you want a free rebooking or a reimbursement. The pandemic is however not an excuse on the airline’s part to not act accordingly. For example, the EC 261 law states that you must be informed of a flight cancellation at least 14 days before the scheduled departure date. If you weren’t informed on time, you are entitled to up to €600, with the exact amount depending on the flight distance.

Apart from COVID, there could be other reasons why your flight is cancelled. This may include bad weather conditions, strikes, long waits, technical issues, air traffic control restrictions, among others. If the reason for the cancellation is the airline’s fault, they are obliged to compensate you following the EC 261 law.

What’s Next for the Airline Industry?


The airline industry is still shaken by the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on it but at the same, it is coming back up. Airports are now reopened but there are however strict rules in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

Airlines are now requesting COVID test results before and after flying and there are also rules in place for compulsory isolation. There’s no doubt that this new procedure of flying has limited how much people now move across countries but it is better than the complete lockdown in 2024.

The future of the airline industry will not be the same post-COVID. There will be long-term effects as a result of the pandemic, such as compulsory hygiene and safety standards. There might also likely be rules regarding getting vaccinated before being allowed to fly or enter a country.

However, it is essential for airline companies to implement all of these new regulations and control since that is the only way for them to start operating again at the same level as they do before the pandemic.

Official Regulations During Pandemic


The most important thing to know is that if you are planning to travel to the UK, you must have a negative test that is not older than 72 hours. This is common in most countries. However, if you are coming from some of the countries that are on the red list, like Argentina, Turkey, or Georgia, you will have to stay in quarantine for two weeks even if you are a UK citizen.

Moreover, if you are traveling from the countries that are on the amber list, you must have a valid negative test, and take another one upon arrival. Moreover, if you are not vaccinated, you will still have to be in-home quarantine for 10 days and complete another test on day 8.

On the other side, those who are planning to travel to some other country should be ready for various challenges as well. The rules are quite similar in other countries, which means that you must have a proper test.

It is important to learn more about the regulations in the country where you are planning to travel, especially if you don’t want to spend your vacation in quarantine. Also, check if that country is not on a red list in the UK, so you can avoid even more trouble.

The great news for the airline industry is that there are some countries on the green list that are very popular among British people. That might help them to stabilize and start working properly again. Some of the most popular summer destinations are Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Croatia, Dominicana, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and more.

All of this destination is excellent if you are interested in enjoying yourself on the beach and forget about all these challenges at least for a while. There are flights available to all of these locations currently.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the rules in place, passengers will always have their rights. COVID or not, you are entitled to a form of compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled at any point, especially if the reason is within the airline’s control. If you’re not sure of your rights or how to claim your compensation especially in this COVID period, look out for agencies like Flightright in the UK or get legal assistance.

While it seems that the situation is getting under control, these measures are still preventing a lot of people to travel. Also, there are still risks of another spread, which is the main reason why the government is advising people to travel only when it is necessary. The worst situation for the airlines in the UK was during 2024, with a drop of nearly 90% when compared to previous years.

We can notice some progress in 2024, but it is still not enough to provide these companies with compensation for their huge losses. According to many projections and financial experts, they will need years to completely recover from this situation.

There are positive trends, especially in the northern America and Europe, where more people are getting vaccinated by each day. With such progress, the countries might allow free traveling again in the next few months. Still, it is crucial to be responsible and careful even if you got your vaccine.

About Jeanette Iglesias