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EU Air Travelers Get More Rights

Air passengers in the European Union will be able to demand up to €600 ($750) in compensation if their plane is overbooked or their flight gets cancelled, the EU council of ministers decided on Monday. The new regulations double compensation payments currently in place and are scheduled to take effect in 2005. Britain and Ireland opposed the move and Germany abstained from the vote, citing “serious legal concerns.” Under the new rules, those who have to stay behind because of overbooking will receive €600 on long-distance flights, €400 ($503) on flights up to 3,500 kilometers (2,174 miles) and €250 ($315) on flights up to 1,500 kilometers. Travelers can also choose between getting re-booked on another flight or demanding their money back, and they will be entitled to a meal and an overnight stay at a hotel, if necessary. According to EU officials, about 250,000 passengers are left stranded each year because of overbooking. In case of a flight cancellation, passengers will receive similar compensation unless the airline makes an announcement two weeks ahead of departure. And those who experience a delay of more than five hours will be able to demand their money back.