The first alteration is one which is sensible and will please airlines. No longer can they be held for compensation due to the weather, volcanic activity or something way beyond their control. It has seemed unfair that they should be held liable when through no fault of their own, they had to cancel flights. The low fare airlines like Ryanair and easyJet have been foaming at the month in condemnation of this in the past yet – so far – I haven’t seen a press release saying they welcome the idea.
Equally strikes by air traffic controllers will also not entitle passengers to compensation.
But if the delay is due to the plane developing a technical problem, lack of staffing or something within the airline’s control including strikes by its own staff, then passengers are liable for compensation.
Compensation on internal EU flights or less than 3,500km will be altered so that no sum is payable until after five hours. On flights between 3,500 and 6,000km passengers won’t get compensation until after nine hours and on distances further, the wait will be twelve hours. And if the delay is more than 12 hours, passengers should be offerred alternative flights on other airlines. This should end the practice of sitting in airports for day-after-day.
If delays occur then airlines will have to pay for up to three nights’ hotel accommodation but if the passenger is disabled, is an unaccompanied child or pregnant then there the airlines will be liable for greater.
One feature which will please many people who buy online tickets and inadvertently hit the wrong keys is that airlines will no longer be able to charge for correcting misspelt passenger names on tickets. That should hit the income stream of some airlines who charge exorbitant fees for altering names.
An annoying problem that passengers always mention – sometimes unfairly – is that the airlines don’t tell them anything. This new proposal says that if the plane is delayed for more than thirty minutes you must be told the reason for the delay. If the delay occurs whilst you’re sitting on the plane then after one hour, the airline must provide toilet facilities, water and air conditioning. In fact that pretty much happens at the moment by practice so this move is merely to formalise matters.
At least these proposals seem better thought out than the last set from the commission!