Passenger rights must be made to bite, says Transport Committee 

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A traveler looks out of a window at the tarmac of an airport © BELGA_AFP_TEH ENG KOON  

Passengers on all types of transport must have swift information, help in the event of service disruptions and non-discriminatory access for persons with reduced mobility, to protect their rights, says the Transport and Tourism Committee in a text adopted on Tuesday. MEPs also urge the European Commission to improve complaint procedures and eradicate unfair pricing conditions.

Georges Bach (EPP, LU), who drafted Parliament's own-initiative report, stressed the need for better assistance to be provided to stranded air passengers, though info-points and help-desks set up in airports by all airlines servicing a given airport.

“Properly trained personnel should be able to take immediate decisions with regard to rerouting or rebooking and to assist in regard to lost luggage and to claims for compensation and reimbursement”, says the text, which was adopted with 43 votes in favour and, 1 abstention.

“Furthermore, we need uniform, multilingual complaint-sheets (…), a deadline for handling complaints and a central, electronic EU ‘clearing-house’ for complaints", Mr Bach said during the debate. He pointed out that passenger rights should apply and be enforced equally in all member states, for the sake of passengers and to ensure fair competition among airlines.

MEPs unanimously called upon the Commission to define clearly the “extraordinary circumstances” causing interruption of services for which airlines cannot be held responsible, in its proposal, to be tabled in November, to revise air passengers’ rights. It should also provide for better protection of passengers in the event of an airline's bankruptcy, they add.

No more unfair tricks when booking online

The Commission must step up its monitoring of websites that mislead consumers when they are booking tickets, say MEPs, and introduce a system of penalties to ensure full compliance with current legislation on price transparency and unfair commercial practices, such as adding non-optional costs for transactions, credit cards or luggage-handling only at the end of the booking process.

In the chair: Brian Simpson (S&D, UK)