New campaign to make passengers aware of rights
July 3rd, 2010 by elisa

A two-year campaign to make air and rail customers aware of their rights on these forms of transport has been launched across Europe this week.

The campaign, by the European Commission, is to highlight unknown or increasingly forgotten rights that passengers have when, for example, trains are cancelled, flights are delayed, bags go missing or customers are denied boarding. This comes in light of the chaos caused by the delays and cancellations made during to the ash cloud chaos where many airlines were accused of trying to shirk their responsibilities by forcing stranded passengers into paying for their own accommodation.

There will be posters at stations and airports across Europe as well as free leaflets and an associated website to look up rights and responsibilities of airlines and train companies here.

There is much more detail on the website, but in short for Rail, your six fundamental rights are as follows:

  • Buying your ticket without hassle
  • Travelling in Safety
  • Equal service for passengers with reduced mobility
  • Information on accessibility for passengers with reduced mobility
  • Compensation in case of injury or death, and liability for luggage
  • Protection from rail companies failing to meet their liability obligations

Interestingly, passengers can receive refunds/compensation for delays, these are the EU guidelines:

“If, when travelling on board of an international rail transport service, your train arrives at least one hour late at the final destination under the transport contract, you are entitled to compensation, provided the cause of the delay was within the control of the railway, as follows:

  • From 60 minutes to 119 minutes of delay: 25% of the fare you paid for the delayed train; from 120 minutes of delay: 50% of the fare you paid for the delayed train. The payment should be made within one month after submitting your claim in vouchers or in cash(on request).

As a rule, compensation will be paid only if it is at least equivalent to €4. Special compensation rules apply to passes such as InterRail, Eurail, etc. and season tickets.”

The rules for flights are more complicated, so reading the website is probably best for the full overview, however it may be interesting to know passenger rights in relation to long delays, as this appears to be where many were confused during the ash crisis:

“You are entitled to care by the airline (phone call, refreshments, meal, accommodation, transportation to the place of accommodation) if the delay is: two hours or more for flights of 1,500 km or less; three hours or more for longer flights within the European Union or for other flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 km; four hours or more for flights of over 3,500 km outside the European Union.

“If the delay is more than five hours, and you decide not to continue your journey, you are also entitled to have your ticket reimbursed and be flown back to where you originally started your journey.

“If you get to your final destination with a delay of three hours or more, you may be entitled to identical compensation to that offered when your flight gets cancelled, unless the airline can prove that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances. Additionally, airlines can be held liable for damages resulting from delays.”

The commission hope to extend their policies to other forms of transport across the EU such as ferries and coaches, but for the meantime click here for information on air and rail travel.

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