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The EU Top12 Recommendations for Passengers

Commission Européenne - MEMO/09/553   15/12/2009

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MEMO/09/553

Strasbourg, 15 December 2009

The EU Top12 Recommendations for Passengers

1. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR FLIGHT IS CANCELLED OR SUBJECT TO A LONG DELAY OR YOU ARE DENIED BOARDING

Before going to the airport, check the time of departure (flights can be rescheduled). If your flight is cancelled or subject to a delay of more than five hours or in case you are denied boarding, ask for reimbursement of the full cost of the unused ticket or segments, or rerouting to the final destination at the earliest convenience.

Appropriate assistance (meals, drinks, communication facilities and a hotel room for the night, if necessary) should also be provided to you depending on the flight distance and the delays incurred.

Remember that once you accept the reimbursement of the ticket, the company has no further obligations towards you in terms of rerouting or assistance.

2. RIGHT TO COMPENSATION IN CASE OF DENIED BOARDING, CANCELLATION OR LONG DELAY

In case of denied boarding, cancellation of your flight, or delay at arrival of more than three hours, you may also be entitled to compensation between €125 and €600 depending on the flight distance and the delays incurred. Furthermore, the airline should always inform you about your rights and the reason for the denied boarding, the cancellation or the long delay (of at least two hours). .

If passengers feel airlines do not provide in a satisfactory manner with the minimum set of rights under EU law, they can lodge a complaint to the national enforcement body in the EU Member State (or in Iceland, Switzerland and Norway) where the incident happened. When the incident concerned an EU airline and it took place outside of an EU Member State, the passenger can lodge a complaint in the EU Member State of their first transit point or destination.

A list of these bodies can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/air/air_en.htm .

3. LOST AND DAMAGED BAGGAGES

In the event of damage, you should complain to the airline within seven days and in the case of delay within 21 days from the moment when the baggage was placed at your disposal. Any other action in court must be brought within two years from the date of arrival. You can get reimbursed up to € 1,223 by the airline company in case your luggage is lost or damaged. If you carry expensive items you should subscribe for private travel insurance, or you can benefit from a higher liability limit by making a special declaration at the latest at check-in and by paying a supplementary fee. In case of difficulties with the airline concerned it is advisable to refer to the national consumers' association in your country or to the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net).

The Commission launched a survey this year to assess lost baggage figures in air transport, which revealed the number of bags delayed at the airport between January 2008 and October 2008 in the European Union amounted to 4.6 million. In 2008 32.8 million pieces of baggage were reported lost around the world, which amounts to a decrease of 20% compared to 2007 (42.4 million). The Commission still considers it excessive and unacceptable. It is closely monitoring the situation and will undertake all needed actions, including regulatory initiatives if necessary, to improve the current situation. The Commission has just launched a Public consultation on issues related to Air Passengers Rights which will also include several questions regarding the liability in case of mishandled baggage and new commercial practices related to luggage. The Public consultation is accessible on line: l http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/consultations/2010_03_01_apr_legislation_en.htm .

For more information please consult the Regulation on air carrier liability in the event of accidents:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32002R0889:EN:HTML

4. WEB SITE PRICE TRANSPARENCY

Applying full price transparency is an obligation under the air services regulation. This means that when consumers book a flight ticket online, the final "comprehensive" price must be available since the initial page, enabling people to compare prices across airlines and make a real choice. In case of optional price supplements, they have to be indicated in a clear and transparent manner. All passengers have the right to equal access to air fares without any discrimination based on their nationality or their place of residence or on the place of establishment of the carrier's agent or other ticket seller within the Community.

The Commission continues to monitor (with the assistance of Member States enforcement authorities) airline ticket selling websites across Europe for compliance with consumer protection rules and has been instrumental in getting companies to improve their standards.

The Commission has also compiled a list of banned practices such as falsely creating the impression of free offers.

For more information please consult the articles 22 and 23 of the Regulation on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:293:0003:01:EN:HTML

In addition, other bans are available at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/

5. SECURITY AT AIRPORTS

Air passengers can only take liquids with them in individual containers with a maximum capacity of 100 millilitres each. The total amount of liquid per person can not exceed 1 litre. These containers should be packed in one transparent, re-sealable plastic bag of not more than one litre capacity per passenger.

These restrictions are necessary as the threat stemming from liquid explosives unfortunately still exists. Until adequate technology to detect such explosives has been developed and deployed at airports, passengers are only allowed bringing liquids in small quantities or if these are really needed during the journey for example medicines or baby food. All other liquids have to be packed in the checked baggage.

A leaflet summarising the most important points of these rules can be downloaded at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air/doc/security_2006_aviation_security_new_rules_poster.pdf .

6. FLYING IN SAFETY

The list of airlines banned in the European Union acts as a strong incentive to remedy safety deficiencies. Withdrawal from the list is indeed possible, when the parties concerned put effectively in place sound corrective action to comply with all relevant safety standards. The concept of a Community list is increasingly proving to serve as a preventive rather than punitive instrument for safeguarding aviation safety. This is illustrated by the numerous instances where the Community has successfully addressed potential safety threats well ahead of resorting to the drastic measure of imposing restrictions. This list has greatly contributed to making Europe's skies safer and could be used to help gradually move towards an international strategy based on cooperation between countries around the world.

These airlines are not allowed to fly to or from the EU. However, the EU cannot prevent banned airlines from continuing to fly elsewhere in the world. If you are planning to take a flight which takes off and lands outside the EU, you may wish to check yourself the EU's blacklist to verify whether the airline in question is not banned from flying in the EU for safety reasons.

The list of banned airlines can be found here: http://air-ban.europa.eu/

7. DISABLED PERSONS AND PASSENGERS WITH REDUCED MOBILITY

The non-discrimination of disabled persons and passengers with reduced mobility because of any permanent or temporary handicap is guaranteed under existing EC regulation for both air passengers and, since 3 December 2009, rail passengers.

In December 2008 the Commission presented two proposals to protect the rights of persons with reduced mobility travelling by maritime transport or by bus and coach.

When travelling by air, you are invited to notify the need for assistance to the airline or to the tour operator at least 48 hours before the flight departure. The Managing bodies of airports will be informed accordingly and shall be responsible to provide assistance up to the aircraft gate and proceed to your seat; then assistance is to be provided by the airlines. The assistance is free of charge.

To find out more about the rights of passengers with reduced mobility, visit: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/air/prm_en.htm

When travelling by rail, ticket vendors and tour operators shall inform you on the accessibility of rail services, on the access conditions and its reasons on request.

Railway companies shall provide disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility with assistance on board a train and during boarding and disembarking from a train free of charge. Assistance is provided on condition that the railway company, the station manager, the ticket vendor or the tour operator with which the ticket was purchased is notified of the person’s need for such assistance at least 48 hours before the assistance is needed.

The disabled person or the person with reduced mobility should present him or herself at the designated point:

- at the time stipulated (by the railway undertaking or station manager providing assistance), which shall not be more than 60 minutes before published departure time or the time at which all passengers are asked to check in;

- if no time is stipulated, at least 30 minutes before the published departure time or the time for check in.

There is no financial limit in case of liability for loss or damages to mobility equipment: in this case, the railway company is completely liable for the total or partial loss of, or damage to, mobility equipment or other specific equipment used by disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility.

To find out more about the rights of passengers with reduced mobility, travelling by rail, visit:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:315:0014:01:EN:HTML

8. WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS IN CASE OF CANCELLATION OR DELAY OF YOUR TRAIN TRIP

In case of cross-border journey within the EU, once a delay of at least 60 minutes is foreseeable , the passenger shall immediately have the choice between:

(i) Reimbursement of the full cost of the ticket or for the part of the journey not made and for the part already made if the journey is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, and

(ii) Continuation of the journey or re-routing under comparable conditions to the final destination at the earliest opportunity or to the final destination at a later date at the passenger’s convenience.

In case the passenger continues his or her journey despite a delay, he or she is entitled to compensation. The minimum compensation for delays is:

25 % of the ticket price for a delay of 60 to 119 minutes,

50 % of the ticket price for a delay of at least 120 minutes.

The compensation of the ticket price is paid within one month after the submission of the request for compensation at the latest. The traveler is not entitled to compensation under certain conditions, if for instance the cancellation, delay or missed connection has been caused by circumstances which the carrier could not avoid, in spite of having taken all due care required in the particular case.

In case of any delay, at the departure or at the arrival of cross-border journeys within the EU, of at least 60 minutes, passengers have to be offered free meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time. Moreover, the railway company has to offer free hotel or other accommodation as well as the transport between the railway station and place of accommodation, in cases where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary due to the delay.

If the train is blocked on the track, the railway company has to arrange transport from the train to the railway station, to an alternative departure point or to the final destination of the service, where and when physically possible.

9. COMPENSATION FOR LOST OR DAMMAGED LUGGAGE AND ADVANCE PAYMENTS AND COMPENSATION IN CASE OF INJURIES OR DEATH DURING THE TRAIN JOURNEY

The railway company shall be also liable for loss or damage resulting from the total or partial loss of, or damage to, registered luggage . In such case, the rail company must pay up to around 1,300 (1,200 units of account) 1 per item of luggage if the amount of the loss or damage suffered is proved, or a lump sum of around €330 (300 units of account) per item of luggage if the amount of the loss or damage suffered is not established.

In case of death of, or personal injury to the passenger, the rail operator shall be liable for the loss of, or damage to, articles which the passenger had on him or with him as hand luggage up to a maximum of around 1,500 per passenger ( 1,400 units of account).

If a passenger is killed or injured during a train accident, the rail company is required, within 15 days , to advance payments that meet the costs for the immediate needs of the affected passenger or of his or her dependants and that shall be at least €21,000 in the event of death of the passenger.

In case of accident during the rail journey, the rail company shall be liable for the death of the passenger or for the personal injuries occurred to him or her

The carrier shall, under certain circumstances, be relieved of this liability if the accident has been caused by external circumstances or by the behavior of a third party or by the fault of the passenger.

The amount of damages to be awarded shall be determined in accordance with national law. However, the upper limit per passenger shall be set at around €190,000 (175,000 units of account), where national law provides for a limit of less than that amount.

10. SATISFACTION WITH RAIL SERVICES/ COMPLAINTS

Rail companies are obliged to set up a complaint handling mechanism for the rights an obligations covered by the Regulation and to make the contact details and working language(s) of such a complaint body widely known to passengers.

The complaints have to be answered within one month or in justified cases the passenger has to be informed by what date within a period of less than three month from the date of the complaint a reply can be expected.

NB: please consider that Member have the possibility to exempt the following services from the scope of application of some provisions of the Regulation: regional, urban and suburban services, domestic services; international services where a significant part of it is operated outside the EU territory.

For more information please consult the Regulation No 1371/2007  of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers' rights and obligations:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:315:0014:01:EN:HTML

Other transport modes

The Commission presented in December 2008 two proposals to protect the rights of passengers travelling by water or by bus/coach. Once in force, the regulations will give these passengers similar protection as for air and rail travel.

To find out more about the two proposals, concerning maritime transport and bus and coach transport services, visit

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/maritime/maritime_en.htm

where you can find the link to the following:

11. TRAVEL PACKAGE

When consumers buy a travel package, they are entitled to know what they are paying for and what is included in the package deal under Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours . Any brochure made available to consumers must indicate clearly and accurately the price and all relevant information, such as destination, itinerary and the means of transport used, type of accommodation, meal plan, passport and visa requirements, health formalities, timetable for payment and the deadline for informing consumers in the event of cancellation.

To find out more about the directive, visit:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31990L0314:EN:HTML

12. AVOID ROAD ACCIDENTS

Every year 10,000 people die in road accidents in Europe due to drivers being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One out of four accidents can be linked to excessive alcohol and drug consumption, even more so in the holiday period. The Commission adopted in January 2001 a recommendation for the level of alcohol permitted behind the wheel:

    • 0.5 mg/ml in the blood for all drivers

    • 0.2 mg/ml in the blood for novice drivers and professional drivers

This recommendation is not legally binding and therefore the permitted level of alcohol can vary across Member States (e.g. Sweden has adopted a zero-tolerance approach). Of course, the safest course of action is still to never drink and drive.

Especially young people are at risk on our roads. The Commission develops prevention and information measures and also co-finances campaigns managed by young people for young people to encourage them to stay away from alcohol and drugs.

The Commission has also provided €19 million – 80% of the total cost – to the DRUID project, which investigates the influence of psycho actives on driving a vehicle. For more about the project, visit http://www.druid-project.eu/

In spring 2010 the Commission will publish its road safety action plan for 2011-2020.

For more information on road safety, visit: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/index_en.htm

WHAT ARE YOUR PASSENGER RIGHTS AND HOW CAN YOU COMPLAIN

If you have an enquiry about your rights and where to complain, you can write to:

    • EuropeDirect:

http://ec.europa.eu/europedirect/index_en.htm

Free phone number from anywhere in the EU: 00800 67 89 10 11

More information and the lists of the national authorities responsible for enforcing these rights for the air sector are available at: http://apr.europa.eu

1 :

Units of account = SDR (special drawing rights), reference is made to the exchange rate at 11/12/2009, which is: 1 SDR = 1,078 SDR. At: https://www.imf.org/external/np/fin/data/rms_five.aspx


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