The flight departure board shows cancelled flights during the national strike at Zaventem international airport in Zaventem near Brussels, Belgium, 13 February 2019. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ


EC wants fast refunds and clearer information for stranded travellers


The European Commission is advocating for travellers to have access to clearer information and swift reimbursement in the event of trip cancellations.

An EC proposal on revised rules has been issued to the European Parliament and Council of the European Union ministers. They now have to decide on what form the final proposed regulations will take.

Currently, the EU is the only global region with an established passenger-rights framework encompassing all modes of transportation. Travellers however face issues due to poor implementation and enforcement of the rules.

To change this, the EC wants more robust mechanisms to enforce them and to speed up reimbursements.

If those with disabilities travelling by air are obliged to be accompanied, the person accompanying them would travel free of charge under the revised rules.

There would also be greater clarity for people who bought air tickets via intermediaries, such as travel agencies, on who will reimburse them. In addition, there would be protection against travel company insolvency, while the right to be refunded within 14 days will be reaffirmed.

Passengers using different types of commercial transport will be entitled to improved information and financial protection. Prepayments and down-payments will be limited.

Additionally, the EC is recommending the establishment of a “common European mobility data space,” which will facilitate the access to and sharing of transportation-related information by companies and travellers alike.

It is hoped the new proposed regulations, if implemented, will push Member States to be more proactive regarding travel-related concerns rather than just reacting to complaints piecemeal. If passed, the EC would have the authority to request that EU nations investigate cases and take appropriate action.

Existing travel problems were exacerbated by the COVID pandemic which European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, who oversees consumer rights, said was a wake-up call for the industry.

“With this proposal, we see concrete solutions to concrete problems,” he added.