EU Moves Vs. Airline Overbooking
Jan. 30, 1998
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Airlines flying in or out of Europe would have to pay passengers more if they're bumped off overbooked flights, under rules proposed Friday by the European Union's executive agency.
If the group's 15 member nations approve the measures, airlines will have to pay a bumped passenger up to $380, in addition to providing an alternative flight or ticket refund.
The EU has had regulations requiring airlines to compensate victims of overbooking since 1991, but many travelers are unaware of their rights, said Sarah Lambert, transportation spokeswoman for the European Commission.
Under the new proposals, airlines would have to display notices at check-in counters telling passengers of their rights and pay claims immediately in cash.
``This decision should strengthen consumer rights,'' EU Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock said in a statement. ``It not only increases the amount of money available, but ensures that airlines recognize their obligations to the flying public.''
Under the proposals, airlines would be required to pay up to $201 compensation per passenger on flights of up to 2,187 miles and $380 for longer flights.
In addition, the airlines would be obliged to refund the cost of the ticket for the part of the journey not made or to reroute the passenger as soon as possible, or at the passenger's convenience.
If the airline can reroute a passenger within two hours for a flight of up to 2,187 miles or four hours for longer flights, the amount of compensation would be halved.
The European Consumers' Organization welcomed the proposal. ``What we want to see is that there is strict enforcement to ensure the rules are rigorously applied,'' said spokeswoman Valerie Thompson.
The rules would apply to all flights into or out of airports within the EU, including charters.
Passengers showing up after the recommended check-in time would not be able to claim compensation.
The Association of European Airlines was unhappy with the proposed increases.
``We support the idea of making the public know their rights,'' said Sefik Yuksel, the AEA's general manager for trade affairs. ``We have objected to an increase in levels (of compensation) ... It's bureaucratic and very negative.''