The days of disappointing airlines running rings around disappointed passengers left stranded in airports or separated from their baggage could be numbered.
With a few taps on a smartphone, consumers who find themselves let down by an airline can access all their rights in an easy-to-understand format, which should help people to better defend themselves in the face of incompetence or intransigence.
With peak summer getaway season in full swing, the timing of the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland’s online Flights Rights Calculator could scarcely be better.
The ECC says its new site will help ease the frustration of problems such as cancellations, delays, or lost baggage, by helping holidaymakers figure out exactly what their EU air passenger rights are quickly and easily.
All passengers impacted by problems have to do is enter a few simple details about their flight and/or baggage problem and the calculator will do the rest.
It will let passengers know quickly if they are entitled to anything and what that is, for example if compensation is payable and what that amount should be.
"When there's a problem like flight cancellation or delay it can be very frustrating for passengers as they try to figure out what to do and what their rights are," said ECC Ireland spokeswoman Martina Nee.
“They often don’t know that they’re entitled to things like care and assistance or in some cases even compensation.”
She expressed the hope that the Flight Rights Calculator will “make the situation a little easier for them. By knowing their EU air passenger rights, for their particular situation, the passengers will be able to liaise with airlines with a bit more confidence.”
The ECC is a Europe-wide organisation that engages directly with consumers and offers information and advice services on cross-border rights. Since it was set up 12 years ago, its centres across Europe have assisted more than 700,000 consumers.
It is co-financed by the European Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
Unlike the CCPC, the ECC can fight on behalf of individual consumers and often wins fights that may otherwise be unwinnable because of language barriers or because consumers here have no idea where to turn when bad things happen to them elsewhere in the EU.
If an Irish consumer gets into difficulty with a retailer or service provider outside of this jurisdiction, the European Consumer Centre can help build a solid case, which it passes on to its counterpart in the relevant country to make contact with the trader. It has also published reports on topics such as air-passenger rights, commercial warranties, fraud in cross-border e-commerce and the availability of charge-back procedures across the EU.
The Flights Rights Calculator was developed by ECC Sweden, which is a sister centre of ECC Ireland and part of the European Consumer Centre Network, and the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC). Whilst every effort is made to offer clear and accurate information via the Flight Rights Calculator, it is provided as a guidance only and should not be treated as a substitute for legal advice.
It can be accessed via the ECC Ireland website here.