EU offers air passengers disembarkation power

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DELAYED air passengers will have the right to pull the plug on their journey after five hours waiting on the tarmac, under tougher rules proposed by the European Commission.

The choice to demand disembarkation, as well as being fully reimbursed for the price of the ticket, is among updated provisions to improve travellers’ rights.

Also new is a legal requirement on air carriers to provide information on airport delays or cancellations no more than 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time.

And if the plans are approved by EU transport ministers and MEPs, there will also be a new obligation on airlines to operate an efficient complaints procedure – including acknowledging receipt of the complaint within one week and providing a formal reply within two months.

EU officials say the failure to offer any response to disgruntled passengers is one of the biggest complaints about the existing air traveller rights rules, introduced eight years ago.

The time taken to deliver any information is another, followed by reluctance on some occasions by carriers to offer immediate financial compensation, legally-required refreshments and accommodation.