SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today welcomed new rights for European air passengers. The new rights would mean that airlines will have to take care of passengers who are delayed and will be forced to make sure that information about flights keeps coming. For the first time airlines will also be forced to reply to complaints and some charges that airlines have made in the past will be illegal.
The package of new rights, which are likely to come into effect next year, will provide better complaint procedures and enforcement measures so that passengers get what they are entitled to.
"Passengers know they have rights but just don't know how to use them. People need to be able to rely on those passenger rights when they need them the most, and they shouldn't be hard to understand.
"The Icelandic ash cloud highlighted this perfectly. No-one seemed to know what rights they had as passengers and were confused about how much responsibility the airlines should take. These new measures will stop that kind of confusion from happening in the future.
"More and more Scots are now taking advantage of direct air links with Europe which opens up trade and tourism opportunities. These new rules will ensure that Scots are well-treated by the airlines that are flying them abroad.
"The proposals still need to be approved by the EU Member States and the European Parliament so we still have a journey ahead of us before Europe becomes the first part of the world where passengers enjoy comprehensive rights across all types of travel. It's happening slowly but we are certainly travelling in the right direction."
The new rules will include:
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.
For further information, please see:
Statement by Commissioner Siim Kallas: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-217_en.htm#PR_metaPressRelease_bottom