The European Commission published on Monday the results of an Eurobarometer survey on passenger rights in the European Union, which found that only 43% of EU citizens who have travelled by air, long-distance rail, coach, ship or ferry in the previous 12 months know that the EU has established rights for passengers.
Previous surveys conducted by Eurobarometer in 2005 and 2009 were limited to questions on public awareness of air passenger rights, however, the 2014 survey’s subject extended to include rail, ship or ferry, and coach travel.
The current survey also probes citizens’ awareness of passenger rights, and their experience of travel disruption and remedial action. It was conducted between 19 February and 4 March 2019 and included interviewing 27,973 EU citizens at home, in their mother tongue.
The results demonstrate that the percentage of travellers who feel they were well informed about their rights by transport companies before travelling varies by transport mode, being 40% for air passengers, 29% for ship or ferry passengers, 26% for rail passengers and 26% for coach passengers.
Socio-demographic findings are also important as it was found that men are more likely to be aware of passenger rights than women (35% to 28%), as well as people who remain longer in education (41% vs 18%-29%).
The survey’s results show that more than half (53%) of those who experienced a significant air travel disruption say that some form of remedial action was taken, while less than four in ten of them are satisfied with the way the transport company informed them about complaints procedures.
It should be highlighted than a significant percentage (45%) of citizens who experienced a travel disruption, did not make an official complaint, most likely due to the feeling that it would be useless.
A large majority of 81% of those who have ever requested assistance for a person with disability or reduced mobility mention that they were satisfied with the transport company’s response.
Concerning the use of transportation modes, the EU average use of air and rail transport has decreased by 1%, while the coach transport has increased by 3% and ship or ferry services has increased by 9% and largely decreased in Greece (-9%), since 2014.
Netherlands is the only country where rails is the most commonly used transport mode, while coach transport ranks first only in Slovakia. Concerning the use of ship or ferry, results demonstrate that this is the third most commonly used transport mode in three countries; Estonia (38%), Greece and Malta (27%).
Young Europeans are more likely to have used rail transport, according to Eurobarometer, and so are the residents of urban societies, who prefer air and rail transport.
Europe is the only continent that has introduced a supra-national legislation for all transport modes, to ensure a minimum level of protection for citizens, wherever they are across the bloc.
“The European Union is the only area in the world where citizens are protected by a full set of passenger rights. However, these rights need to be better known and easier to understand and enforced. Our rules should also provide more legal certainty to passengers and the industry,” said Adina Valean, Commissioner for Transport.