Are your passenger rights an airlines’ best kept secret?

Are your passenger rights an airlines’ best kept secret?

Travel is a right for all people, but all too few travelers are actually aware of the passenger rights in case of disruptions. Are you aware of your passenger rights?

Millions of people around the world travel every day and the number of travelers keep rising. IATA predicts that the amount of travelers will be 7.6 billion in 2036. In order to handle this volume of passengers, both airports and airlines are undergoing huge developments at the moment and in the years to come.

Just like my fellow travelers, I always seek to have a smooth and easy journey from A to B, without disruptions. However, not all journeys go ahead as planned and millions of travelers experience disruptions every day: delays, cancellations, denied boardings, damaged or lost baggage and much more. Disruptions on a journey cause ruined travel plans, loss of time and for business travelers even a potential loss of important client meetings and business contracts.

So, do you know your legal rights as an air passenger? Every European citizen is covered by the EC 261/2004 regulation. Never heard of it? Well the EC 261/2004 is designed to compensate the passenger for the loss of time in the event of long delay of flights, cancellations and of denied boarding. The Montreal Convention governs airline liability in i.e. case of damage or lost baggage. Persons with disabilities or reduced mobility are also covered by special legal rights.

Turkey has its own passenger rights regulation and very much alike the EC 261/2004. Passenger rights can also be found in other parts of the world. In Canada (North America) new passenger rights are expected to be in place for the 2019 summer travel season and in fact the new passenger rights are inspired very much by the EC 261/2004 regulation.

Your passenger rights are key and important to know if and when disruptions occur on the journey. And this goes for both passengers and other relevant parties involved such as airlines, airports and National Enforcement Bodies (NEB). There are lots of different regulations to keep track of. The The EC 261/2004 Regulation is by far one of the most complex regulations to understand and interpret when it comes to passenger rights. From time to time The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) clarifies revisions based on the high number of legal cases and the latest clarification from the court was released in January 2019. I highly recommend all travelers to read it carefully before the next journey.

Well, more airlines struggle financially and due to the passenger rights and the number of compensation payouts keep rising. If the passenger knows nothing about passenger rights, then there is no need to ask for a compensation. Or so hope more airlines. In fact a number of smaller regional jets went bankrupt in 2018 due to passenger rights compensation payouts. Would more airlines follow in 2019 and the years to come?

In my personal opinion every traveler should know their passenger rights and what to do if and when disruptions on the journey occur. Not because I want airlines to go bankrupt (on the contrary!) but simply because passenger rights cannot be neglected or forgotten. Travel is a right for all – and so are passenger rights!

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Lene Marie Seitzberg is the founder and CEO of Legal Travel Beagle, a Danish legal consultancy specialising in providing advice on passenger and travel rights. Prior to founding Legal Travel Beagle in July 2018, Lene Marie was a Customer Service Advisor for 11½ years at one of the biggest mobile connection providers in Scandinavia. Lene Marie holds a Law degree (LLM) from Aalborg University in Denmark (2014) and also a BA degree in Commercial Studies and Business Languages (English and German) from Southern Denmark University (2003).

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