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EU Adopts Comprehensive Passenger Rights Package for Enhanced Travel Protections and Clarity

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

The Commission of the European Union has taken a significant stride in fortifying passenger rights and streamlining access to travel information by adopting a comprehensive new passenger rights package. Unveiled on November 29, the proposed measures are poised to bring about substantial improvements, clarifying existing rules on reinstatement and ensuring more seamless journeys for passengers within the European Union.

EU Adopts Comprehensive Passenger Rights Package for Enhanced Travel Protections and Clarity

Despite the EU having a pre-existing passenger rights framework that covers air, rail, ship, and bus travel, passengers often grapple with challenges arising from gaps in the rules and shortcomings in implementation. In response, the revised Regulations on Passenger Rights seek not only to reinforce enforcement mechanisms but also to introduce novel provisions that address specific pain points.

"I welcome the passenger rights package adopted today, which aims to better protect passengers against disruptions during a journey. The new framework will notably provide for smoother journeys, especially those involving different travel services or transport modes." - Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič

The proposals are particularly impactful for passengers who book flights through intermediaries. The revisions offer much-needed clarity on reimbursement procedures in the event of flight cancellations, providing a more robust framework for resolving such issues. Moreover, the scope of protection is broadened to encompass passengers embarking on multimodal journeys, where various transport modes are integrated into a single trip. This addresses a growing trend in modern travel and ensures that passengers receive improved information before and during such complex journeys, with a particular focus on the minimum connecting time between different transport services.


In a commendable move towards inclusivity, the revised rules also introduce enhancements for passengers with disabilities. These passengers will now receive dedicated assistance at connecting points when traveling under a single contract of carriage or through multimodal passenger hubs. Airlines are now obligated to transport accompanying passengers free of charge and seat them next to the passenger requiring assistance, a step towards fostering a more accessible and accommodating travel environment.

Beyond these specific provisions, the new rules affirm travelers' rights to a refund within 14 days, aiming to streamline and expedite the reimbursement process. To prevent excessive financial burdens for travelers, down payments for travel packages are now capped at 25% of the overall package price, striking a balance between consumer protection and industry viability.

Addressing issues related to vouchers, the new rules provide transparent information about their characteristics, and automatic refunds are mandated if vouchers remain unused within the stipulated time frame. This ensures that passengers are not left in a lurch and reinforces their right to clear and understandable information when navigating complex travel scenarios.

"The new rules will provide more rights and clearer information for travelers when they book a package. There will be clear rules on vouchers. We will also make the right for a refund bulletproof. With this proposal, we see concrete solutions to concrete problems." - Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders.

Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations, and Foresight, welcomed the passenger rights package, highlighting its focus on protecting passengers against disruptions during their journeys and providing clarity, particularly for those utilizing different travel services or transport modes.

Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders emphasized the practical solutions offered by the new proposals, addressing concrete problems faced by travelers. In addition to safeguarding passenger rights, the EU's broader vision encompasses the establishment of better multimodal travel information services and the creation of a common European mobility data space. This overarching initiative aims to empower passengers with real-time information on various transport modes, including timely updates on cancellations, delays, and comprehensive details about accessibility, fostering a more informed and resilient travel experience within the European Union.


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