Commission Explains Passenger Rights in EU Amid COVID-19

In a bid to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to remind carriers that passengers in the EU are protected by a full set of passenger rights – whether they travel by air, bus rail, ship, or coach, the Commission has published guidelines to ensure EU passenger rights are applied in a coherent manner across the EU.

While national government have introduced different measures, including travel restrictions and border controls, the Commission has issued these guidelines in order to reassure passengers that their rights are protected, the EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said presenting them.

In light of the mass cancellations and delays passengers and transport operators face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission wants to provide legal certainty on how to apply EU passenger rights. In case of cancellations, the transport provider must reimburse or re-route the passengers. If passengers themselves decide to cancel their journeys, reimbursement of the ticket depends on its type, and companies may offer vouchers for subsequent use,” Commissioner Vălean said.

According to him, these guidelines will provide travellers and carriers with the necessary legal information on how to apply the EU passenger rights in a coordinated manner across the European Union.

The guidelines will, among others, help reduce costs for the transport sector, which is heavily affected by the outbreak.

Air Passenger Rights

If you have been scheduled to travel through Europe with an aeroplane, but due to the recent events your flight has been cancelled, the EU guarantees you with some fundamental rights as an air passenger. Note that some of your rights depend on the airline.

Right to reimbursement or re-routing. If the airline cancels your flight, no matter what the reason is, they should offer you the following choice to pick among:

  • reimbursement (refund),
  • re-routing at the earliest opportunity, or
  • re-routing at a later date at the passenger’s convenience.

Right to care. All passengers who are affected by a flight cancellation have the right to care, free of charge which must be offered must by the operating air carrier. Here are included meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time; hotel accommodation if necessary, and transport to the place of accommodation.

Right to compensation. Travellers whose trips are cancelled due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken are also entitled to for fixed sum compensations.

You can find detailed information regarding flight compensation here: Ultimate Guide To Claiming EU Flight Delay Compensation

Rail Passenger Rights

Right to be informed. Before rail passengers buy a ticket railway, ticket sellers must provide passengers, upon request, with pre-journey information. Here are included information on any activities that have a high chance to disrupt or delay services. Similar information should be provided to passengers during the journey as well.

Right to reimbursement or continuation of the journey /re-routing. If a train is excepted to get to its final destination about 60 minutes alter that the time set, passengers have the choice between reimbursement of the ticket price or to continue the journey or re-routing.

Right to assistance. If a train is delayed arrives at its destination 60 minutes later that its schedule, passengers have the right to require meals and refreshments within reasonable limits. In addition, when a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary where and when physically possible, the carrier is obliged to offer accommodation as well.

Right to compensation. In cases when passengers have not asked for reimbursement but rather for the continuation of the journey or re-routing, passengers also have the right to compensation.

25% of the ticket price should be compensated in cases when the train is delayed 60 to 119 minutes. Whereas, 50% of the ticket price will be compensated for delays of 120 minutes and more the compensation is.

Bus Passenger Rights

Right to be informed. Those travelling by bus are entitled to adequate information throughout their travel, which must be ensured by carriers and bodies that manage terminals.

Right to the continuation of the journey /re-routing or reimbursement. When the departure of a carrier from a terminal is set to be cancelled or delayed for more than 120 minutes reasonably, passengers have the right to choose between continuation or re-routing to the final destination at no additional cost of the full ticket price.

Right to assistance. In cases when the departure of a long-distance service with a scheduled duration of more than 3 hours is cancelled or delayed for more than 90 minutes, passengers are entitled to meals or refreshments, in reasonable relation to the waiting time.

Right to compensation. In the case of bus services, the passenger has a right to that amounts to 50 % of the ticket price in case the service is cancelled but is available only if the carrier fails to offer the passenger the choice between reimbursement and re-routing.

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