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European Commission Proposes Sweeping Measures to Enhance Passenger Rights

Man sitting in gang chair by an airport window

European Commission Proposes Sweeping Measures to Enhance Passenger Rights, Mobility Information, and Multimodal Travel

In a concerted effort to elevate passenger rights and streamline travel experiences, the European Commission has unveiled a comprehensive set of proposals that address passenger protections, travel information accessibility, and multimodal travel promotion. These proposals stem from valuable insights gleaned from recent events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the demise of the travel group Thomas Cook in 2019, which profoundly impacted both travelers and the travel industry.

Strengthening Passenger Rights: A Cornerstone of the Proposals

The proposals prioritize the reinforcement of passenger rights, ensuring that travelers are adequately protected and informed throughout their journeys.

  1. Enhanced Refund Clarity: When flights or multimodal travel are booked through intermediaries, refund rules will be clarified to safeguard passengers against cancellations. This measure aims to address the complexities and ambiguities that often arise when dealing with intermediaries, ensuring that passengers are not left financially disadvantaged in the event of cancellations.

  2. Seamless Multimodal Travel: Passengers embarking on journeys involving different travel services or modes of transport will benefit from smoother experiences. Immediate support and enhanced real-time information, including updates on delays and cancellations, will be readily available. This provision recognizes the growing prevalence of multimodal travel and seeks to address the challenges that can arise when coordinating multiple travel segments.

  3. Addressing the Needs of Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility: Particular attention will be paid to the needs of this group, facilitating transport mode changes and enhancing the quality of assistance provided. This measure underscores the Commission's commitment to ensuring equitable and accessible travel experiences for all passengers.

Protection for Organized Travel Travelers: A Paramount Concern

The proposals also recognize the importance of protecting travelers who book organized travel packages.

  1. Crisis Resilience: Drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the proposals aim to enhance the protection of package travel travelers, particularly during crises. This provision acknowledges the vulnerability of package travel consumers during disruptions and seeks to strengthen their safeguards.

  2. Stronger and Clearer Passenger Rights: Travelers will enjoy stronger and clearer rights, while tour operators will have clearly defined obligations and responsibilities. This measure aims to establish a balance between consumer protection and the operational needs of tour operators, ensuring that travelers' rights are upheld without unduly burdening businesses.

  3. Key Provisions: a. Streamlined Refund Procedures: Travelers will be entitled to a refund within 14 days. This provision seeks to expedite the refund process, minimizing financial inconvenience for travelers. b. Limitation of Advance Payments: Advance payments will be capped at 25% of the package price, unless organizers face justifiable expenses. This measure aims to protect travelers from excessive upfront payments, ensuring that they are not disproportionately financially committed before the travel date. c. Transparency Regarding Vouchers: Clear information about vouchers will be provided, including the right to insist on a refund. This provision aims to ensure that travelers are fully informed about their options regarding vouchers and are not pressured into accepting them against their will. d. Insolvency Protection: Vouchers and redemption rights will be protected against insolvency. This measure safeguards travelers' financial interests in the event of tour operator insolvency, ensuring that their prepaid travel arrangements are not jeopardized. e. Transparent Communication: Travelers will receive clear communication about package tour status, responsibilities, and passenger rights. This provision promotes transparency and informed decision-making, empowering travelers to understand their rights and make informed choices.

Promoting Multimodal Travel through Improved Information Services and a Common European Mobility Data Space

The proposals seek to incentivize multimodal travel by enhancing information availability and establishing a common European mobility data space (EMDS).

  1. Real-time Access to Multimodal Travel Information: Travelers will have easier access to real-time information on different modes of transport, including delays and cancellations, facilitating seamless multimodal journeys. This provision aims to overcome the information silos that can hinder multimodal travel planning and decision-making.

  2. Expanded Information Scope: New types of information, such as bicycle transportation options and accessibility information for passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility, will be readily available. This measure recognizes the growing popularity of cycling as a travel mode and the needs of travelers with disabilities, ensuring that relevant information is readily accessible to all.

  3. Establishment of a Common European Mobility Data Space (EMDS): The EMDS will facilitate data access, aggregation, and sharing from existing and future sources, enabling real-time data access for informed travel planning. This provision leverages technological advancements to create a centralized repository of transport data, enabling real-time information access and improved travel decision-making.

The EMDS will also empower public and private sector entities to develop innovative transport services and data-driven policymaking. This measure promotes data-driven innovation in the transport sector, fostering the development of new mobility solutions and evidence-based


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