EPF, as the consumer organization, has been monitoring certain problems that appear in the sector of air travel. Airline passengers face various situations, where they need more comprehensive information, assistance and support from organisations like ours.

EPF has been monitoring the following issues:

1. European Regulation 261/04 – about air passengers rights, its execution and enforcement
2. Information for the passengers about their rights
3. ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution in European Union
4. Consolidation of airlines and its impact on the consumers
5. Surcharges imposed on the tickets purchased through neutral distribution systems (not directly from the airlines)
6. Overbooking and no-show cases
7. Monitoring of complaints sent by passengers to airlines
8. Lost and damaged luggage
…and more.

Today we want to share with you our conclusions and remarks to topic nr 1.

European Regulation 261/04 is a law quite clear and easy to apply. It explains in which situations the passengers can claim compensation from the airlines (delays, cancellations, overbookings etc.), when the airlines need to take care of the passengers and on which territory the regulation is applicable. Generally there are three thresholds with the amounts to be paid by the airlines if the passenger lodges a complaint – 250 EUR, 400 EUR and 600 EUR – depending on the distance to the destination (see  infographic below).

The Regulation also clarifies how and when the airlines have to take care of their passengers. In case of a flight’s delay or cancellation the airline is obliged to:
a. inform the passengers about the situation and next steps
b. inform the passengers about their rights – basically what is in Regulation 261/04
c. after 2-3 hours the passengers are to be offered refreshments – beverages and meals, if the passenger has to wait longer (in the night) the airline must arrange accomodation and transport to and from the hotel
d. rebook passenger’s ticket to a next/different flight if possible.

Even though the Regulation is obtainable in the internet, and theoretically displayed at the airports, we see that many consumers do not know about their rights. The airlines do not inform their clients about their rights in a comprehensive way and the presentation of the rights at the airports or on the websites of the carries, is insufficient. This results in passengers not demanding proper treatment in case of an irregularity, not to mention the lack of awareness of possible compensation.

EPF is trying to popularize passenger rights on its website and on the websites of its members e.g. www.friendlyflying.org. We also talk to stakeholders of the air travel sector, informing them about the actual state of affairs. Here we present an infographic which we hope makes along story short and explains Regulation 261/04.

We are currently working on the solution to this problem, so hopefully there will come a day when the airline passengers are protected and informed better in all situations.

Also, if you have been travelling on a plane in the past two years, you can fill out the survey, conducted by EUAuditors, and share your opinion on how you see the passengers rights.