Boat passengers in the European Union are to see their rights enhanced in the event of delay or cancellation following a decision by the European Parliament.
At present ferry passengers have the right to a refund or a space on a later sailing if their journey is disrupted. However, airline customers get more protection, such as compensation if a flight from a European airport is affected.
The new rules are designed to bring consistency to the arrangements.
From 2012 when a regular passenger boat or ferry service is cancelled or over 90 minutes late in departing, the passengers will have the right to be rerouted (in order to reach the destination earlier) or to receive back the ticket cost and not to travel (or else to return to the initial port of departure at the company’s cost).
This will not apply in the case of weather delays or other conditions outside the operator’s control.
Passengers must also be given snacks or meals, wherever possible, the EP said in a statement.
In addition, regardless of whether they choose to travel or not, the passengers will now be entitled to compensation of 25 per cent of the ticket price.
However, passengers are still unable to claim compensation for any lost time at their holiday destination. Such claims will still have to be made through travel insurance - if a policy offers sufficient cover - or a credit card provider.
Addressing the European Parliament Siim Kallas, European Commission vice-president for transport said: “This means passengers travelling by water will benefit from the same basic quality service standards wherever they travel in the European Union.
“We hope that the European framework of passengers’ rights might soon be completed by the adoption of a regulation on rights for passengers travelling by bus and coach.”
Bus Negotiations Ongoing
Following the success of the regulations governing boat travel, the Parliament has turned its attention to the protection of travellers taking a bus.
The European Parliament is currently drafting regulation stipulating new bus and coach passenger rights; such as ticket cost reimbursement or rerouting in case of delays in departure of more that two hours.
There are also provisions for compensation of up to €1800 for lost or damaged baggage.
Meanwhile, in the event of a passenger’s death in a bus or coach accident, the amount of compensation should not be limited, argue MEPs.
However, the debate is ongoing.