Tuesday

12th Nov 2019

New rights for passengers facing cancelled flights

  • Passengers in the EU to get higher compensation due to overbooking, and delayed or cancelled flights (Photo: European Commission)

New EU rules to boost passenger compensation from airlines are set to come into force on Thursday (17 February).

The legislation, adopted last February, will introduce new rights for passengers facing delays, denied boarding or cancellation of their flights.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Unlike the previous measures, dating back to 1991, the new rules cover both scheduled and un-scheduled flights, including those sold as part of a package holiday.

The new rules also apply to flights from outside the EU to any of the member states, if provided by a European airline.

The European Commission argued that it would "dramatically reduce the frequency of denying boarding against a passenger's will", which has become common practice with the boom of air travel in Europe over the past years.

It is estimated that, each year, about a quarter of a million air passengers at EU airports face problems due to overbooking.

Red light for overbooking

Under the new rules, in cases of overbooking, airlines will have to first ask for volunteers already checked-in to give up their seats in return for agreed benefits.

Where not enough of them are interested, the pending passengers may be denied boarding but provided with financial compensation, based on the length of a flight - from 250 euro for under 1500km, up to 600 euro for over 3500km.

In addition, airlines must offer passengers the choice of a refund of their ticket or an alternative flight to continue their journey.

Penalties for cancelled flights and long delays

More compensation for passengers has been introduced in cases of cancelled and delayed flights.

Airlines should provide meals and refreshments and hotel accommodation if passengers need to stay overnight, plus reimbursement when a delay or a cancellation – whatever the cause - delays their customers for at least five hours.

When the reason for a cancellation is within the airlines’ control, passengers must be paid the same amount of compensation as agreed for the cases of denied boarding, unless they have been informed two weeks in advance or provided with alternative flights close to original timing.

Strong opposition from the airlines

The new rules sparked protests by airlines while it was being debated in Brussels last year.

Some challenged the law legally by asking the courts for a judicial review.

They argued that they could not be held responsible for delays and cancellations caused by bad weather, saturated air traffic, security demands or strikes.

"We estimate that this regulation will lead to about 1.5 billion euro of extra costs per year", said Andy Clarke from the European Regions Airline Association.

He suggested that all the passengers would ultimately foot the bill for the new measures, which are unclear and ambiguous, and do not take into consideration extra circumstances beyond the airlines’ control.

"We can’t prevent delays due to bad weather. There will be no fewer of them. The only thing to change is that we will transfer costs from those passengers whose flights have been disrupted to those without such experience. And that is not in majority of passengers’ interest".

The European air transport includes over 130 airlines. The demand for air travel in Europe increased three-fold between 1980 and 2000, and is expected to double by 2020.

Catalan MEP is 'elected', court advisor says

In a boost for the cause of three Catalan MEPs, the advocate general of the EU Court of Justice has recognised their mandate as elected MEPs -but it is up to the parliament if they should enjoy immunity.

New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle

The parliament's legal affairs committee narrowly gave the green light to France's Thierry Breton - with some MEPs critical of the candidate's links to IT firm Atos. Meanwhile, Brussels still waits for a UK commissioner.

Opinion

Israeli labelling ruling lets consumers make choice

Beyond the Israel-specific dimension of this decision, the EU court places ethics back at the heart of European consumer choices and reminds us that our daily, mundane purchases may have considerable and unforeseen geopolitical implications, particularly as regards occupied territories.

News in Brief

  1. Sánchez and Podemos agree coalition deal in Madrid
  2. Three new commissioner-designates pass legal scrutiny
  3. ECJ: EU countries must label Israeli settlement products
  4. Belgian asylum centre set on fire
  5. Xi Jingping in Athens promises new investment
  6. Farage's Brexit Party will not stand in Tory-held seats
  7. British founder of Syrian 'White Helmets' found dead
  8. Eight member states ask for EU aviation tax

Agenda

New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK

Next week will see a new round of commissioner hearings for the latest candidates from France, Hungary and Romania in the European Parliament, while crucial elections take place in Romania and Spain.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. Catalan MEP is 'elected', court advisor says
  2. Pro-Israeli group scores own goal on EU retail labels
  3. New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle
  4. Israeli labelling ruling lets consumers make choice
  5. What does Macron really want on Western Balkans?
  6. Far-right Vox celebrates, as Spain left without majority
  7. EU 'climate bank' won't rule out carbon capture
  8. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us