Europe May Get Rid Of Strong Airline Consumer Protections

Europe has strong airline consumer protection rules, at least in theory. In practice even when an airline owes you money for a delay, it’s tough to collect. We’ve seen customers literally send bailiffs to airline offices to collect and airlines even cancel flights to avoid having their aircraft impounded over $300.

Now they may even eliminate the protections in EU regulation 261 (2004) which requires airlines to compensate passengers between €250 and €600 cash for flight delays of over 3 hours, for cancellations, and for involuntary denied boardings due to overbooking.

For nearly two decades, passengers on a European trip delayed by more than three hours have been able to claim back between €250 and €600 for the trouble. That could soon be a thing of the past.

…Airlines have long argued it’s unfair they are compelled to pay out hundreds of euros for a delay that is likely to have had a negligible impact on a traveler’s trip. They also point out that the compensation is typically far higher than the price of the ticket.

  • Eliminating strong protections is being driven by the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU Presidency. Airlines plan to work with the Swedes on this once Sweden takes over in January
  • Airlines are lobbying heavily
  • Negotiations have stalled for years because of unrelated disputes between the U.K. and Spain over the Gibraltar airport, however the U.K. is no longer in the E.U.

Past proposals have involved increasing the length of time that consumers have to be delayed in order to receive compensations, such as five hours, and expanding the circumstances that would exempt an airline from liability. Airlines also want to cap liability at tickets cost, though a two day delay is an imposition on passengers whether they paid 30 euros or 500 euros.

Reportedly EU bureaucrats are sympathetic to IATA and European airline lobbyists “but don’t want to appear to be rolling back passenger rights.”

Here’s how to claim European delay compensation while you still can.

(HT: Paul H)

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