Airline passengers are entitled to compensation for nonmaterial damages in case of flight cancellations or delays, according to a recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

In 2010, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) network, which includes units in 29 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland), received over 71 000 complaints, according to the network's annual report.

One in three complaints concerned transport, of which almost 60% were about air travel (partly due to the volcanic ash crisis).

In the period January - mid-October 2011, the number of complaints concerning air travel in Bulgaria has doubled, according to Ignat Arsenov, director of EEC-Bulgaria.

In 2009, the Bulgarian branch of the ECC network received a total of 34 complaints involving air travel problems, in 2010 these complaints were 33 and in the period January - mid-October 2011 the total number jumped to 57.

According to Arsenov, EU rules give airline passengers one of the broadest sets of rights to compensation.

CJEU's ruling further specifies that an airline passenger may claim compensation for cases of flight cancellation where an aircraft has taken off but, for whatever reason, was subsequently forced to return to the airport of departure where its passengers were transferred to other flights.

In cases of flight cancellation, the document entitles passengers to a reimbursement of the ticket or re-routing to the final destination.

Under the CJEU ruling, during the wait for a later flight, the carrier must offer passengers adequate care (for example, accommodation, meals and the chance to make telephone calls).

In cases where the flight has been canceled without notice or with very short notice and there are no extraordinary circumstances, passengers also have the right to a flat-rate compensation, the amount of which varies depending on the distance of the scheduled flight.



Source: Sofia News Agency