EU Proposes new Air Passenger Rights

The European Union Transport Commission has announced a proposed new set of rights for airline passengers.  Although subject to EU member states and the European Parliament’s approval, they are expected to become law next year.
The new guidelines are designed to bring clarity to some ‘grey areas’ concerning flight disruption compensation.
Regarding the definition of exceptional circumstances, those which exempt airlines from
having to pay disruption compensation, the EU says events such as natural disasters (such as ash clouds from volcanic eruptions) will in future be recognised as exceptional circumstances.  Strikes by air traffic control centres will also count as exceptional circumstances but problems with unserviceable aircraft will not.
The current minimum delay time for compensation on flights within the EU or less than 3,500km will be extended from three to five hours, while pay-outs for sectors of up to 6,000km will begin after nine hours.  Longer trips must be delayed for at least 12 hours before compensation is due.
The new EU rules propose airlines must pay for a maximum of three nights’ hotel accommodation, though there are exceptions for passengers with reduced mobility, unaccompanied children and pregnant women.  In addition, carriers will no longer be able to charge for correcting misspelt passenger names on tickets.
The EU also hopes to force airlines to acknowledge complaints within a week and deliver a formal answer within two months.
At the airport, airlines would be required to inform and explain delays to passengers within 30 minutes of the scheduled departure time.
For delays incurred after boarding, should an aircraft’s departure be delayed on the ramp for over an hour the carrier must provide air conditioning, water and toilet access.