Consumer advisors target air passengers
The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) and the European Consumer Centre for Services (ECCS) consumer advisors are linking up with the Civil Aviation Authority and Gatwick Airport to encourage passengers to ‘pack a little consumer know-how’ about their air passenger rights.
Thousands of air passengers across Europe will be able to learn more about their rights in cases of cancellation, delays or baggage loss as the UK ECC and 28 other ECCs take part in an EU-wide Air Passenger Rights Day. The event will take place simultaneously on the same day across Europe. The UK ECC is being joined at Gatwick Airport by the European Consumer Centre for Services (ECCS), which offers consumers pre-shopping advice on their rights and means of redress when accessing services across the European Union.
Consumer advisors will be on hand to provide passengers with help and advice. They will answer passengers’ questions, distribute promotional materials such as ‘Air Passenger Rights’ leaflets and luggage tags, and provide direct help in concrete cases. The UK ECC and ECCS’ airport helpdesk event will be at Gatwick Airport from 7am to 1pm on Wednesday 4 July.
Jane Negus, European Consumer Centre for Services Executive, said: “One problem we experience is that consumers sometime have higher expectations than their rights actually dictate. It’s important for consumers to understand that there are limitations to what they are entitled to when things go wrong, and this event is as much about that as it is about telling them what their rights are.
“We hope that by partnering up with Gatwick Airport in this EU-wide initiative that we will reach hundreds of air passengers.”
Complaints about air transport are always one of the largest categories of cases received by the UK ECC from UK consumers. So far this year (to the end of May 2012), just over 10% of the UK ECC’s complaints have been about ‘passenger transport by air’ and ‘luggage transport by air’ combined.
The underlying trend is up, as complaints in these categories accounting for just fewer than 6% of all complaints in 2009. There were artificial spikes in 2011 and 2010, due to the ‘volcanic ash’ crisis and the ‘UK snow’ crisis respectively. In 2011 the figure was just over 13% and in 2010 the figure was just over 12%.
Jane said: “Travelling by plane has taken off significantly since the early 1990s and this rapid growth has led to more complaints and enquiries from passengers.
“EC Regulation 261 came into effect in 2005, establishing common rules on compensation and help to air passengers in certain situations. This legislation applies to passengers leaving from airports within an EU country and all those arriving into such airports from a third country where the flight is operated by an EU carrier.”
Sandra Webber, Director of Consumer Support at the Civil Aviation Authority, said: "We are pleased to be working with UK ECC to give passengers at Gatwick Airport as much information as possible as they make their outward journeys from the UK. The vast majority of travellers have a trouble free journey, but occasionally things can go wrong. The CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team is able to advise passengers travelling from the UK about their rights when they travel by air and we welcome the opportunity to work together on this initiative with the UK ECC and ECCS."
The EU’s Air Passenger Rights Regulation 261 is currently being reviewed by the European Commission.
This review is looking to clarify key issues such as limits for liability in case of extraordinary circumstances, compensation thresholds, effective re-routing of passengers, shared risk between operators in the supply chain and other issues where there are weaknesses, including protection in the case of mishandled luggage or re-scheduled flights.