More hand baggage among raft of changes for airlines

Handbags and airport shopping will be allowed on all flights free of charge from next year and compensation for cancelled and delayed flights will kick in after just three hours.

Under new rules voted on by members of the European Parliament, airline practices such as forcing you to buy a new return ticket if you do not take the first leg of the journey will also be banned.

Only 2% of people who could have claimed compensation for delayed and cancelled flights managed to do so — proof that the current rules are failing passengers, according to Jim Higgins, Fine Gael MEP for Ireland North-West.

The airports were the first to welcome the move towards an end to the “one piece of cabin baggage only” rule enforced by a growing number of airlines.

Olivier Jankovec, head of the airports body ACI Europe, said this rule was “hurting the passenger experience”. He said it was also hurting the airlines’ income, as few had enough room in their cabin baggage for purchases made in airport shops.

The change was also welcomed by Phil Prendergast, Labour MEP for Ireland South, who described it as a successful case of “handbags at dawn” that will allow passengers to carry their coat, a handbag, and one bag of airport shopping with their cabin bag.

For cancelled journeys, passengers will be entitled to a rerouted flight or their money back, as well as compensation ranging from €300 to €600, depending on the length of delay after three hours.

This change was forced after a ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Some concessions were also made to the airlines, such as extending the reasons when they need not pay compensation. These now include bird strike, political unrest, and unforeseen labour disputes.

In the event of another ash cloud crisis, airlines would have to pay for no more than five nights’ accommodation. They will, however, have to have a person at the airports to deal with passenger complaints and inform them of their rights.

The new rules now have to be agreed to by the EU member states who will begin negotiations with the parliament on the details. They are expected to come into force next year.


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