Difficult for passengers to receive compensation

12/3/2015

Air travelling is the number 1 area when it comes to cross border complaints addressed to the ECC-Net, and a new report from the European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net) examines the main problems currently faced by air travellers and their sources.

The number of people travelling by air keeps increasing. That is why air passenger rights are one of the most important consumer rights within the EU. However, since the beginning of 2015, European Consumer Centres received more than 4000 complaints from consumers across Europe who had difficulties receiving compensation in case of delayed or cancelled flights. 

Background

The ECC-Net Air Passenger Rights Report 2015 “Do consumers get the compensation they are entitled to and at what costs?” builds on the complaints received by the network established in the 28 EU Member States, Norway and Iceland. This network provides free of charge assistance to consumers which have an issue with a cross border purchase (when travelling or shopping online).

Findings

The difficulties faced by consumers when claiming their compensation rights is concomitant with the development of private complaint management companies assisting consumers in exchange of a share of the compensation eventually obtained.

As the EU law on air passenger rights Regulation (EC) 261/2004 contains explicit remedies in specific cases related to delays or cancellations, the process should be straightforward and costless for consumers. Airlines need to do a better job in observing and informing passengers of these rights and better co-operation between National Enforcement Bodies, the ECC-Net, consumer protection organisations and airlines/business sector should be established to ensure that passengers receive required care, assistance and compensation, regardless of the airline they fly with or the country they depart from.

– If the awareness of the rights among consumers increased and if all the airlines give consumers’ complaints proper consideration with the air passenger rights legislation in mind, consumers would receive the full compensation they are entitled to and not need to pay private claims companies to exercise their rights. Using private claims companies costs consumers, as they take a fee of at least 20 percent and sometimes they also apply additional fees, and it costs airlines, says Jolanda Girzl, director of ECC Sweden.