The European Commission today announced a package of measures to ensure that air passengers have new and better rights to information, care and re-routing when they are stranded at the airport. At the same time there will be better complaint procedures and enforcement measures so passengers can actually obtain the rights to which they are entitled.
Vice President Siim Kallas said “It is very important that passenger rights do not just exist on paper. We all need to be able to rely on them when it matters most – when things go wrong. We know that the real priority for stranded passengers is just to get home. So our focus is on information, care and effective rerouting. The aim is to get passengers where they want to be as quickly as possible while giving the airlines the time they need to sort problems out.”
The proposal updates passenger rights in four key areas:
1. Clarifying Grey Areas: rights to information on delayed or cancelled flights; extraordinary circumstances; rights in relation to long delays and tarmac delays; contingency planning; rights to re-routing and rights on connecting flights.
2. New Rights: in the case of rescheduling; misspelt names; new rights with regard to mishandled baggage and transparency requirements for cabin and checked luggage.
3. Enforcement, Complaint-Procedures and Sanctioning: strengthening oversight of air carriers by national and European authorities (monitoring and joint investigations); as well as for complaint handling and enforcing individual rights (including a requirement on airlines to reply to complaints within two months); insolvency.
4. Disproportionate Financial Burden: limits to assistance; limits for regional operations; sharing the economic burden.