Saturday 23 September 2017

Passengers get more rights as EU plans shake-up for airlines

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

AIRLINES will be forced to book passengers on rival carriers if they can't provide an alternative flight themselves in less than 12 hours, under planned new EU laws.

Proposed reforms to laws governing passengers' rights are due to come into force in less than two years – subject to approval by the European Parliament and 27 member states.

The reforms include:

• A ban on the practice of charging passengers fees to correct the spelling of their name on tickets.

• Airlines will have to inform passengers why a flight has been cancelled within 30 minutes of its departure.

• Complaints will have to be acknowledged within a week with responses issued within two months.

• And passengers will have additional rights if they are on a plane stranded on the airport tarmac for more than an hour.

Both of the main Irish carriers currently charge passengers for changing names on tickets.

Ryanair charges €110 for changes to names booked online and €160 if a name change is required at the airport. Aer Lingus charges €100 for names changed.

The proposed reforms come a month after Ryanair lost a European Court of Justice case over the compensation of passengers left stranded by the volcanic ash cloud in 2010.

The court ruled that when a flight was cancelled – even in exceptional circumstances – the airline was obliged under the EU 261 regulation to provide care to passengers including meals, hotel, accommodation, transport and communications.

Carriers will no longer have to compensate passengers for delays and cancelled flights caused by bad weather or airline strikes, but will still be obliged to provide accommodation and other care.

Aircraft stranded on the tarmac will be required to have toilets open for passengers if they are delayed for an hour.

EU vice-president Siim Kallas said: "It is very important that passenger rights do not just exist on paper."

Ryanair and Aer Lingus could be contacted for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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