The EU system of passenger rights is well developed, but passengers need to fight hard in order to benefit from them, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Passengers are often not aware of their rights and lack practical information on how to obtain them, say the auditors. They make a number of recommendations for improvement, including automatic compensation for delays in certain situations, so that passengers do not have to claim for themselves. They also provide ten tips to help make all passengers’ travel experiences better.
The European Commission has established a set of core EU passenger rights common to the four modes of public transport - air, rail, waterborne and bus. The rights are guaranteed for each transport mode, although the extent of coverage and specific rules differ from one regulation to another.
To examine whether passenger rights are effectively protected, the auditors visited the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Finland and conducted two passenger surveys. They found that the extent of the regulations makes the EU framework unique globally. However, many passengers are not sufficiently aware of their rights and frequently do not obtain them due to problems with enforcement. In addition, while the core rights are meant to protect all passengers, the extent of protection depends on the mode of transport used.
“The EU’s commitment to passenger rights is indisputable,” said George Pufan, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “But to best serve passengers’ interests, the system needs to be more coherent, more user-friendly and more effective.”