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Mobility and Transport

Passenger rights

Why passenger rights matter

The EU is the only area in the world where passengers are protected by a full set of rights - whether they travel by air, rail, ship or bus and coach.

Europe has experienced a boom in mobility over the last decades. EU legislation has therefore been introduced for all modes of transport to protect passengers’ rights and ensure they are not lost in a myriad of national rules.

Passenger rights are based on three cornerstones: non-discrimination; accurate, timely and accessible information; immediate and proportionate assistance. The following ten rights that stem from these principles form the core of EU passenger rights:

(1) Right to non-discrimination in access to transport

(2) Right to mobility: accessibility and assistance at no additional cost for disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility (PRM)

(3) Right to information before purchase and at the various stages of travel, notably in case of disruption

(4) Right to renounce travelling (reimbursement of the full cost of the ticket) when the trip is not carried out as planned

(5) Right to the fulfilment of the transport contract in case of disruption (rerouting and rebooking)

(6) Right to get assistance in case of long delay at departure or at connecting points

(7) Right to compensation under certain circumstances

(8) Right to carrier liability towards passengers and their baggage

(9) Right to a quick and accessible system of complaint handling

(10) Right to full application and effective enforcement of EU law

See also the European Commission’s Communication on a European vision for Passengers

Review of the passenger rights framework

Fair mobility also means protection for passengers and their rights as highlighted in the Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

Some gaps remain in today’s passenger rights framework, while shortcomings in implementation and enforcement are preventing passengers from fully benefiting from their rights. The Commission has adopted two proposals to address these weaknesses.

The proposal for a revision of the Regulations on Passenger Rights will strengthen the enforcement mechanisms and introduce rules, including on reimbursement, for air passengers who booked their flights via an intermediary. The proposal on passenger rights in the context of multimodal journeys sets out, for the first time, new rules to protect passengers using different types of transport for a single trip. Passengers will enjoy better information rights before and during such travel, including on minimum connecting times between different transport services.

The needs of passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility receive particular attention. Persons with reduced mobility (PRM) who switch from one transport mode to another during a journey will be assisted by carriers and terminal operators at connecting points when travelling under a single contract of carriage or when travelling through multimodal passenger hubs. If an airline obliges a passenger with disabilities or a PRM to travel with someone because the passenger requires assistance to comply with aviation safety rules (e.g. to fasten a seatbelt), the airline must transport the accompanying person free of charge and, when practical, seat this person next to the passenger they are assisting. This right already exists for rail, ship and bus/coach travel.

EU legislation

To protect passengers, the EU has adopted rules covering:

Air passenger rights

Road passenger rights

Rail passenger rights

Ship passenger rights

Passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility (PRM): rules on PRM can be found in the rules for all four modes (see above).

Information on your passenger rights and how to claim them

In case your transport service was cancelled or delayed or you were denied boarding, if your luggage was damaged or lost, or if you have special mobility needs, visit the ‘Your Europe’ passenger rights website  where you can find detailed information and advice on your rights and how you can claim them.

Passengers who buy a ticket as a part of a package travel are also protected through the Package Travel Directive.

You can also download the “Your Passenger Rights” app to your smartphone for free to check your rights immediately and on the spot. (Google Android, Apple iOS)

Passenger rights in the context of Covid-19

The Commission published Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19 as well as a Recommendation on vouchers offered to passengers and travellers in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can find more information on travel during the coronavirus pandemic on the Coronavirus response website, which includes a dedicated FAQ on passengers’ and travellers’ rights.

See also the European Court of Auditors’ Special report no 15/2021 on air passenger rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.