Adina Vălean, Commissioner responsible for Transport, said: “With the flood of cancellations and delays faced by passengers and transport operators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission wants to provide legal certainty on how to implement EU passenger rights. In the event of cancellations, the carrier must offer passengers reimbursement or re-routing. If passengers themselves decide to cancel their journeys, reimbursement depends on the type of ticket, and companies can offer vouchers for later use. These guidelines aim to provide much-needed legal certainty on how to implement EU passenger rights across our Union in a coordinated way. We continue to monitor the progress of this evolving situation and, if necessary, further action will be taken.
These guidelines will help passengers, industry and national authorities in an unprecedented situation, with significant restrictions on passenger travel imposed by national governments and knock-on effects on transport services across the EU. By introducing clarity, it is expected that the Guidelines will also contribute to reducing costs for the transport sector, which has been severely affected by the outbreak. The Guidelines address the rights of passengers travelling by air, rail, ship, bus or coach and by sea and inland waterways, as well as the corresponding obligations of carriers.
If passengers are faced with cancellation of their journey, they can, for example, choose between reimbursement of the ticket price or alternative transport to reach their final destination at a later stage. At the same time, the Guidelines clarify that the current circumstances are “extraordinary”, with the consequence that certain rights – such as compensation in case of cancellation of a flight less than two weeks before the date of departure – cannot be invoked.
The EU is the only area in the world where citizens are protected by a comprehensive set of rights when travelling by air, train, boat, bus or coach. Carriers have to offer reimbursement of tickets or alternative transport to passengers whose service has been cancelled. They must also offer assistance in the form of meals and accommodation. As regards compensation, the rules differ according to the mode of transport.