Every year the 15thof March is dedicated to consumer rights. World Consumer Rights Day was first introduced in 1983 and has been raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs ever since. This year Skycop looked at the EU Council’s proposed Reform of air passenger rights and, simultaneously, at the future of air passenger rights.

The debates in regards to making changes to the current air passenger rights have been going since 2013. The last progress report was discussed at the EU level in 2015 and included agreement on a simplified definition of 'cancellation' and clarification which situations are considered cancellations or delays.

According to the EU Council’s statement, the proposed regulation would also clarify the rules for access to compensation, including:

· an increase in the time threshold before compensation from 3 to 5 hours for all journeys within the EU (for journeys outside the EU, the threshold would depend on the length of the flight);

· the introduction of a single time threshold of 2 hours for access to care and assistance, such as refreshments, for all flights;

· clear rules for connecting flights and when passengers have the right to care and/or compensation;

· a requirement for airlines to reroute passengers on other carriers or means of transport if they can't reroute passengers on their own service within 12 hours;

· clarification of rights for passengers whose flights are rescheduled less than 2 weeks before departure;

· a clear explanation of passenger rights during tarmac delays and the requirement for passengers to be told about flight disruption as soon as information is available.

The changes would also create more effective complaint handling procedures and strengthen enforcement, monitoring and sanctioning policies. In particular, airlines would have to provide clear complaint handling procedures (web form, email address) and reply to passengers within specific deadlines.

The EU regulation for air passenger rights is in need of a reform, but a current proposal is not enough. The change in time threshold is not going to help the passengers who experience flight disruptions, but clarity and accuracy in terms and claiming process would. The changes would help both, the passengers, who experience disruptions and have a difficult time claiming their rightful compensations, and airlines that would have clear rules helping them set a smart budget.

In the meantime, while the changes are on their way, if you experience any flight disruptions reach out to Skycop who is there to help and fight for your rights.