EU Passengers Rights
Governing bodies of the travel industry have realized that beyond getting from point A to point B, travel covers a wide range of services and interactions of millions of people worldwide.
To ensure responsibility and efficiency of these operations, passenger rights have been drafted to serve as a guide in the conduct of fundamental transport policy.
The European commission has established a set of regulations aimed at protecting passengers within the EU. The EU Passenger Rights extends to all modes of transportation within all single Member State locations, intra-Community, or external frontiers. It was created to protect passengers from unfair practices and lessen difficulties during their journey.
Remember, as social beings, travel is one of our more frequent activities. Knowing our rights not only safeguards but also entitles us to a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience we deserve.:
Passenger rights when travelling by air
- Passengers of Reduced Mobility
Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 is part of a general plan to reinforce passenger rights on all forms of transport. Persons placed at a disadvantage by reduced mobility, whether caused by disability, age or another factor, should have opportunities for air travel comparable to those of other citizens. The Regulation on the rights of persons with reduced mobility when using air transport prohibits operators from refusing reservation or boarding to persons because of their disability*.
There are certain exceptions and derogations, however, particularly for justified safety reasons established by law. An air carrier may refuse to accept a reservation from or to embark a person with reduced mobility or request that a travelling person with reduced mobility must be accompanied by another person, in order to meet applicable safety requirements duly established by law or if the size of the aircraft makes it physically impossible to embark that person.
Within five working days of refusing a reservation or embarkation or requiring a person with reduced mobility to be accompanied, the air carrier must inform in writing the person concerned of its reasons for doing so.
Persons with reduced mobility are entitled to receive assistance free of charge in airports (on departure, arrival and during transit) and on board aircrafts (for example, the transport of wheelchairs and the carriage of guide dogs for the blind). The managing bodies of airports should provide this assistance and fund the services by levying charges on airlines.
*”Disabled person” or “person with reduced mobility”: any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and the adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all passengers.
>Denied boarding and Cancellation of flights
This concerns delays, cancellations and overbooking that prevent you from boarding and applies if you are:
- leaving the EU with any airline, or
- arriving in the EU with a carrier registered in the EU (or Iceland, Norway or Switzerland)
Refund or alternative transport
If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled or overbooked, you are entitled to either:
- transport to your final destination using comparable alternative means, or
- having your ticket refunded and, where relevant, being returned free of charge to your initial departure point.
Long delays – if your flight is delayed by 5 hours or more, you are also entitled to a refund (But if you accept a refund, the airline does not have to provide any further onward travel or assistance).
Your airline must inform you about your rights and the reason for being denied boarding, or any cancellations or long delays (over 2 hours, although this may be up to 4 hours for flights in excess of 3500 Km).
Food and board
You may also be entitled to refreshments, meals, communications (such as a free phone call), and, if necessary, overnight stay, depending on the flight distance and length of delay.
In addition, if you are denied boarding, your flight is cancelled or arrives more than 3 hours late, you may be entitled to compensation of €250 – 600, depending on the distance of the flight:
Within the EU
- 1,500 km or less – €250
- over 1,500 km – €400
Between EU airport and non-EU airport
- 1,500 km or less – €250
- 1,500 – 3,500 km – €400
- over 3,500 km – €600
The distance is calculated from the airport where you were unable to board the plane – this may not be where you started your journey.
If the carrier offered you an alternative flight with a similar schedule, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.
With cancelled flights, you won’t receive compensation if:
- the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances for example due to bad weather, or
- you were informed 2 weeks before the scheduled flight date, or
- you were offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule to the original one.
For cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances you may not have the right to compensation, the carrier must still offer you either:
- a ticket refund (in full or just the part you have not used)
- alternative transport to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or
- rebooking at a later date of your choice (subject to seat availability).
Even in extraordinary circumstances, airlines must provide assistance when necessary, while you are waiting for alternative transport.
How to get a refund or compensation
Submit an air passenger rights EU complaint form to your airline – and make sure you keep a copy for yourself.
If this doesn’t work, or you aren’t satisfied with the reply, you can complain to the national enforcement body in the EU country where the incident took place.
Or, if the incident happened at an airport of departure outside the EU but involved an EU airline, you can send a complaint to the relevant national enforcement body in the EU country you were travelling to.
When passengers are denied boarding on a flight, airlines are obliged to first seek volunteers to give up their reservation in exchange for certain benefits. In addition, the air carrier must also offer volunteers the choice between a full refund and re-routing.
You may be entitled to compensation of between €125 and €600 depending on the distance of the flight and the delays experienced before being re-routed. Where volunteers choose re-routing, the airline must also provide assistance if necessary, for example – food, access to a telephone, hotel accommodation of one or more nights if necessary and transportation between the airport and the place of accommodation.
> Lost or damaged registered luggage
If your registered luggage is lost, damaged or delayed, you may be entitled to a compensation from the airline, up to about €1,220
Exception – if damage is caused by an inherent defect in the baggage itself.
Hand baggage (including personal items)
The carrier is liable if it was responsible for the damage.
Make sure to file your claim within 7 days of receiving your luggage (or 21 days if your luggage was delayed).
If you wish to pursue other legal action, you must do so within 2 years of the date your luggage arrives.
If you are travelling with expensive items, you might be able – for a fee – to obtain a compensation limit higher than €1,223 by making a special advance declaration to the airline – at the latest when you check in. Though the best thing is really to take out private travel insurance.
There is no standard form for the special declaration. It is up to the airlines to choose the type of form they provide.
> Booking online – clear pricing
When you book a flight online, the total price of the ticket – including all compulsory elements such as taxes and charges – must be visible from the start, so you can compare prices across airlines and make an informed choice.
As well as the final price, at least the following information must be clearly displayed: air fare, taxes, airport charges, other charges, surcharges or fees (such as for security or fuel). Any optional supplements must be clearly indicated and suggested on an opt-in basis only.
How to report unclear pricing
Complain to the national enforcement body in your country of residence in the EU.
>Identity of the airline
You must be informed, in advance, about which airline is operating your flight. Airlines found to be unsafe are banned or restricted within the European Union. They are listed at: /transport/air-ban/
> Package holidays
The organisers and retailers of package holidays are obliged to provide precise, complete information about booked package holidays. They are obliged to honour contractual terms and to protect passengers in the event of insolvency. Package tour operators must give accurate information on the holiday booked, comply with contractual obligations and protect passengers in the case of the organiser’s insolvency.
> Price transparency
According to EU legislation, when you purchase a ticket for flights departing from EU airports, the applicable conditions should be made clear to you.
The final price to be paid should be indicated at all times and it should include the applicable air fare, as well as applicable taxes, and charges, surcharges and fees which are unavoidable and foreseeable at the time of publication.
It should also show you the breakdown between the fare, the taxes, the airport charges and finally the other charges, surcharges and fees. Optional price supplements should be communicated
in a clear, transparent and unambiguous way at the start of the booking process and your acceptance of them should be on an “opt-in” basis.
Passenger rights when travelling by train
- Right of transport for passengers with reduced mobility
If you have a disability or if your mobility is reduced, you should be able to travel without difficulties. You are entitled to purchase tickets and reservations at no additional cost. In order to clarify the conditions of access, rail companies and station managers have to develop and apply non-discriminatory access rules.
- Buying your ticket without any hassle
You have the choice to purchase your ticket in staffed stations, for instance, at tickets counters or at selling machines, or, in most cases, also via the Internet.
However, where none of these possibilities are available, you may instead also have the possibilityï¿½to buy your ticket on the train.
- Travelling in security
Rail companies, infrastructure managers and station managers are legally obliged to take adequate measures to ensure your personal security in stations and onboard trains.
- Cancellation or delay
If your train is cancelled or delayed, you always have the right to adequate information about what is happening while you are waiting.
If you are told you will arrive at your final destination with a delay of at least 1 hour, you are entitled to:
- cancel your travel plans and request an immediate refund of the cost of your ticket (sometimes in full, sometimes only for the part of the journey not made.)
- You may also be entitled to a return journey to your initial departure point, if the delay stops you from fulfilling the purpose of your trip, or be transported to your final destination at the earliest opportunity (or a later date of your choosing). This includes alternative transport when the train is blocked and the service is suspended.
- meals and refreshments (proportionate to the waiting time)
- accommodation – if you have to stay overnight.
If you decide to continue your journey as planned or to accept alternative transport to your destination, you may be entitled to compensation of:
- 25% of the ticket fare, if the train is between 1 and 2 hours late.
- 50% of the fare, if the train is more than 2 hours late.
You will not receive compensation if:
- you were informed of a delay before you bought your ticket
- the delay was caused by circumstances not connected with the operation of the railway and the railway company could not avoid them or prevent their consequences
- the delay was caused by a third party (but you are still entitled to compensation if the delay was caused by another railway company).
If you think your rights have not been respected, you can complain to the railway company, which must reply within 1 month.
If you are not satisfied with their reply, you can contact the national enforcement body in your country.
> Lost or damaged registered luggage
If your registered luggage is lost or damaged during your trip, you have a right to compensation, unless it was inadequately packed, unfit for transport or had a special nature.
If a passenger is killed or injured in a train accident, they (or their dependants) are entitled to compensation for lost or damaged hand luggage (registered or not) up to a maximum of €1,500.
> Injury and death
If a passenger is injured or killed in a train accident, they (or their dependants) are entitled to compensation, with an advance payment within 15 days of the accidentto cover their (or their dependants’) immediate needs.
In the event of death, this advance payment is at least €21,000 per person.
>Protection from rail companies failing to meet their liability obligations
Rail companies have to be properly insured to cover their liabilities under EU passenger rights legislation in respect of their passengers and luggage. Therefore you are protected against any failure of the rail company to meet its liability obligations.
- Up to €1,300 per piece of registered luggage – if you can prove the value of its contents.
- €330 per piece if you can’t prove the value.
Passengers travelling by waterborne transport
The Regulation on passenger rights in maritime and inland waterway transport was published on 17 December 2010 as Regulation 1177/2010. It will enter into effect on 18 December 2012; before this date these rights do not apply.
The Regulation applies in respect of passengers travelling:
- on passenger services where the port of embarkation is situated in the territory of a Member State;
- on passenger services where the port of embarkation is situated outside the territory of a Member State and the port of disembarkation is situated in the territory of a Member State, provided that the service is operated by a Union carrier;
- on a cruise where the port of embarkation is situated in the territory of a Member State.
However, the Regulation does not apply to passengers travelling on ships certified to carry up to 12 passengers, on ships with an operating crew of not more than three persons, or where the overall service is less than 500 metres, one way, on excursion and sightseeing tours or on ships propelled by non-mechanic means.
The new rights include amongst others:
- In case of cancellations or delays at departure of more than 90 minutes
- guarantee of reimbursement or rerouting;
- adequate assistance (such as snacks, meals, refreshments and, where necessary, accommodation up to three nights, with a financial coverage up to 80 per night)
- In situations of delay in arrival or cancellation of journeys
- compensation, between 25% and 50% of the ticket price
- Protection for people with a disability or reduced mobility
- non-discriminatory treatment and specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at port terminals and on board ships, as well financial compensation for loss or damage of their mobility equipment
- Right to information
- minimum rules on information for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information about their rights in terminals and on board ships
- Complaint handling
- establishment by carriers and terminal operators of complaint handling mechanism available to passengers;
- Establishment of independent national bodies for the enforcement of the Regulation, through, where appropriate, the application of penalties.
Passengers travelling by bus and coach
The Regulation 181/2011 was published on 28 February 2011 and its provisions will apply as from 1 March 2013
The Regulation fully applies to long distance services (i.e. of more 250 km), whereas only some of its provisions apply to all services, including those of shorter distance.
The new rights applicable to long distance services (i.e. of more than 250 km) include amongst others:
- adequate assistance
(snacks, meals and refreshments as well as, if necessary, up to two nights’ hotel accommodation, for a total amount of 80 per night, except in case of severe weather conditions and major natural disasters) in situations of cancellation or following a delay of more than 90 minutes in the case of a journey of more than three hours,
- guarantee of reimbursement or rerouting
in situations of overbooking or in case of cancellation or following a delay of more than 120 minutes from the estimated time of departure
of 50% of the ticket price following more than 120 minutes’ delay from the estimated time of departure, cancellation of a journey and if the carrier fails to offer the passenger either rerouting or reimbursement.
- Information when the service is cancelled or delayed in departure.
- protection of passengers in case of death, injury, loss or damagecaused by road accidents, particularly with regard to immediate practical needs in case of accident (including up to two nights’ hotel accommodation, for a total amount of 80 per night)
- specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at terminals and on board, and, where necessary, transport free of charge for accompanying people
Additionally, the following rights will be applicable to all services (including those below 250 km):
- non-discrimination with respect to tariffs and contract conditions for passengers based – directly or indirectly on nationality,
- non-discriminatory treatment of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility as well financial compensation for loss or damage of their mobility equipment in case of accident,
- minimum rules on travel information for all passengers before and during their journey as well as general information about their rights in terminals and online; where feasible, this information shall be provided in accessible formats upon request precisely in the interest of the persons with reduced mobility,
- a complaint handling mechanism by carriers available to all passengers,
- independent national bodies in each Member State with the mandate to enforce the Regulation and where appropriate to impose penalties.
How to Complain
If you believe that you have a valid complaint against an airline regarding denied boarding, downgrading, cancellation or long delay, you should first contact the air carrier that operated the flight. Regulation 261/2004 applies to all flights operated by any airline from any EU airport and flights to an EU airport operated by any EU airline. Below are suggestions of free contact points in case you need further assistance.
- National Enforcement Bodies
The EU rules oblige Member States to nominate or create national enforcement bodies, whose role is to verify that transport operators are treating all passengers in accordance with their rights. Passengers who believe they have not been treated correctly should contact the body in the country where the incident took place.
- European Consumer Centre (ECC)
A European Consumer Centre (ECC) supported by the European Commission exists in every EU country as well as in Iceland and Norway. The centers are there to help travelers who have difficulties in having their rights respected, such as the right to be reimbursed or re-routed to the final destination and right to obtain meals and accommodation. Full contact details for ECCs for all countries and links to national websites can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/ecc/contact_en.htm
- The European Commissions preliminary screening service
Please note that the European Commissions preliminary screening service provides citizens with general information about their rights under EU law when traveling and about how to proceed if they wish to log a complaint. The Commission services do not handle complaints themselves, which must be submitted to the air carrier and to the competent authority in the country where the incident took place.
- EU complaint form for air passengers
The complaint form should be sent to the airline or competent National Enforcement Body, NOT to the European Commission.
- EUROPE DIRECT
The EUROPE DIRECT Contact Centre is a service which helps you find answers to your questions about the European Union. It offers information on all sorts of subjects related to the EU including your rights and opportunities as an EU citizen and how to take advantage of them. It can provide direct responses to general inquiries and, if you have more detailed questions, signpost you to the best source of information and advice at EU, national, regional and local levels.