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European Commission Proposes Improvements to its Famed Air Passenger Rights Regulations

European Commission Proposes Improvements to its Famed Air Passenger Rights Regulations

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The European Commission has proposed making a number of changes to its continent-wide air passenger rights regulations, admitting that there have been ‘shortcomings’ in both the implementation and enforcement of the existing regulations and that passengers are missing out.

The regulations, commonly known as EC261 or ‘denied boarding rights’, clearly lay out the rights that passengers are meant to enjoy if their flight is disrupted, although the courts have frequently had to weigh in on whether passengers are actually entitled to compensation.

In the event of a cancellation or lengthy delay, passengers are meant to be able to claim up to €600 in compensation if the airline is to blame for the delay. Even when the delay is beyond the control of the airline, passengers are still meant to be protected with free accommodation and rerouting.

One of the main gaps that the European Commission is looking to close is for passengers who booked their flight via a third party like a travel agent or flight booking search engine when airlines don’t have the passenger’s contact details.

In these cases, third-party booking agents will be required to securely transmit the passenger’s contact details to the airline so that the airline can directly contact the passenger in the event of a delay or cancellation and inform them of their rights.

When it comes to making a claim, the Commission wants to introduce a standardised reimbursement and compensation form which will be the same for airlines across the EU.

Airlines will still be able to provide their own way of claiming compensation, but if a passenger submits the EC-approved form, the airline won’t be able to refuse the claim.

As part of the proposals, airlines will also be required to publish data on how they handle complaints, as well as their punctuality figures and what services they offer for persons with disabilities.

Airlines sometimes require persons with disabilities to have a helper travel with them, but when they make this requirement, they will no longer be allowed to charge a separate ticket for the helper.

Finally, the European Commission wants to extend its air passenger rights regulations to so-called ‘multi-modal’ journeys, an increasingly common practice whereby airlines sell tickets that include air travel and some other form of transport such as a train journey, ferry or bus.

Although not a formal proposal, the Commission has also suggested that it would like airlines to introduce standardised luggage size requirements. Currently, the accepted size and weight of luggage can vary massively from airline to airline.

Adina Vălean, the European Commissioner for Transport, said on Wednesday that she would prefer that airlines come to an agreement in this area on their own, but reserved the right to step in if no progress is made.

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