Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Passengers' Rights in Europe: Mutiny!

Two years ago, Ryanair, a low cost, no-frills carrier based in Ireland, got rid of traditional airport check-in.  But now, the carrier has warned its passengers to print their own boarding passes or else be charged a checking processing fee of 40 euros.

A commercial court judge in Barcelona, Barbara Maria Cordoba Ardao, has ruled that the airline is breaking international law by imposing the charge.  "The normal practice over the years has been that the obligation to issue the boarding card has always fallen on the carrier," the judge reportedly said.   

Ryanair is appealing the ruling, which it calls "bizarre and unlawful."

Meanwhile, approximately 166 passengers aboard a Ryanair flight originating in the Canary Islands were evacuated by armed guards after University of Brussels students mutinied when one of the them was charged a carry-on fee for excess luggage.  After a three hour delay, passengers who did not participate in the protest were cleared for the flight.

This is all reminiscent of the extended delays by JetBlue in February, 2007 and Northwest in 1999, motivating the calls for enforceable passengers rights.

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