Ahead of Air Passenger Rights Day on July 4th, an all-island survey undertaken by ECC Ireland and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland has revealed a positive level of awareness amongst consumers of the air passenger rights of disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility (PRMs).
ECC Ireland's survey of consumers south of the border revealed that 51% of Irish consumers know that PRMs can request additional assistance from an airline 48 hours ahead of their flight. It also illustrated that 62% of consumers know the correct organisation (the airline, tour operator, or travel agent from which the ticket was booked) to contact for assistance. This corresponds well with survey results in Northern Ireland, which reveal that 26% of consumers know when to request assistance and 39% are aware of who to contact.
The survey also asked consumers whether any fees were payable to transport mobility equipment for PRMs. Although this area returned favourable results, overall it seems to be the area that causes passengers the most confusion. In an era marked by additional charges and fees for air travel, it is perhaps unsurprising to discover that, of all those surveyed, 16% of consumers believe that a fee is payable for the transportation of mobility equipment. In actual fact, passengers are entitled to bring up to two pieces of equipment free of charge. While it is encouraging to see 56% of consumers respond to this question correctly, the high percentage of respondents who answered 'don't know' (34% altogether) indicates that this is an area worth focusing on in order to heighten consumer awareness.
Ann Neville of ECC Ireland says: "The high level of awareness among Irish consumers of the rights enjoyed by passengers with reduced mobility is encouraging. This is particularly important in the year of the London Paralympics although it is worth noting that as mobility problems increase with age this is potentially a subject that may affect everyone, either directly or indirectly."
Patricia Barton of the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) says: "The low level of complaints received by this Office in relation to the assistance provided to PRMs and disabled persons suggests that the regime introduced by Regulation 1107 is working quite well and having a positive impact on the travel experience of those requesting assistance. However, there is always room for greater public awareness and improvement in the services provided. Air carriers and airport management bodies agree that the service could be enhanced if PRMs informed air carriers of their requirements as early as possible."
For more information on air travel rights for passengers with reduced mobility, please see CAR's air passenger rights website www.flightrights.ie. ECC Ireland and CAR will be at Dublin airport on Air Passenger Rights Day, July 4th, to provide information on this issue for passengers, while the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, designated complaints handler for air passenger rights complaints under Regulations [EC] 1107 and 261, will be present in the two largest airports in Northern Ireland, George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport.
The European Commission's annual Air Passenger Rights Day takes place Wednesday, 4th July 2012. Ahead of this event, the Commission tasked ECC-Net to undertake an awareness campaign in each Member State. ECC Ireland and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland undertook an all-island survey to gauge the awareness of consumers, both north and south of the border, of the rights of passengers with reduced mobility (PRMs) as provided by the relevant legislation, Regulation [EC] No. 1107/2006. The Commission for Aviation Regulation in Ireland (CAR) is the national enforcement body for this Regulation.
ECC Ireland and its partner organisations surveyed a total of 508 consumers (44 offline, 464 online) both north and south of the border throughout June 2012 and made the above findings on the basis of these responses.
Of almost 60 enquiries raised, the CAR investigated a total of 26 complaints since the Regulation came into effect in July 2008.
The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) comprises 29 centres in Europe, and is co-funded by the European Commission's Directorate General for Health & Consumers and by the Member States, Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to create consumer confidence in the internal market by providing consumers with information on their rights under European legislation, and giving advice and assistance in the resolution of their cross-border disputes.