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Air passenger rights need strengthening

March 30, 2012 10:47 AM

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed a call by Euro MPs today for the European Commission to clarify air passenger rights and ensure that EU rules to protect travellers are enforced.

Current EU laws are in place to compensate passengers for long delays and cancellations. Financial compensation can be sought if a flight is cancelled less that 2 weeks before the scheduled departure, and tickets may be refundable if a delay exceeds 5 hours. Airlines may also be eligible to pay damages resulting from delays to a maximum of around £4000 (€ 4 800.)

MEPs stressed the need to clearly inform passengers of their rights at the time of booking and during travel. They also called for improved price transparency and an end to unwarranted extra costs such as administration fees or credit card transaction costs.

They urged the Commission to re-examine in light of the volcanic ash crisis the meaning of 'extraordinary circumstances' - which give airlines a getout - and to specify that passengers should be repatriated free of charge when airlines go bankrupt.  

Sarah Ludford commented:

"Holidaymakers and business travellers need to know exactly what their rights are at every stage, including when things go wrong with their flight. While existing EU rules provide a good framework, passengers are still informed in an accessible, comprehensive and timely manner."

"There are many frustrations that passengers encounter when booking flights, from being unable to correct minor booking details free of charge or withdraw from an online reservation within a short time after the initial booking, to excessive restrictions on hand luggage."

"We need a level playing field to effectively enforce air passenger rights across the EU. The Icelandic volcano eruption which halted flights in 2010 highlights the importance of getting clarity on what responsibilities airlines owe for their customers and in what situations. "

Notes to editors

The full report on air passenger rights can be seen here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2012-0053&language=EN

European Commission air passenger rights leaflet can be seen here: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/publications/doc/apr_leaflet_en.pdf