Air passenger complaints are falling, says aviation watchdog
AIR travel complaints from passengers are falling, according to the Commission for Aviation Regulation. New statistics show that the complaints body received 3,272 queries from the public in 2012, down by a fifth for the second year in a row.
It says that 2012 was still "a busy year", partly because of a major legal decision by the EU Court of Justice which confirmed that passengers on flights delayed by three hours or more after their scheduled arrival time should get the same compensation as passengers whose flights are cancelled.
Most of the 807 queries that came under the commission's responsibility during the year concerned cancellations and delays rather than denied boarding or downgrades, the first year where a high proportion of complaints related to delays. The commission says it indicates growing public awareness of passenger rights. This is an improvement on 2011, when it appeared that passengers were still unclear about where to address their complaints.
Of the 509 cases investigated in 2012, only 27 customers received a refund of their ticket and/or expenses, compared to 193 in 2011 and 28 in 2010. A further 58 passengers received some form of compensation.
The results came as Transport Minister Leo Varadkar launched formal discussions on strengthening the rights of airline passengers at a meeting of the European Transport Council in Luxembourg.
If new proposals are passed, airlines will have to explain why a flight is delayed within half an hour of the scheduled take-off time and passengers will have the right to correct misspelled entries of their name on tickets up to 48 hours before departure, without penalty.