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22nd April 2010

Consumer Council says airlines must keep the focus on passengers

The Consumer Council says that airlines must remain focused on getting passengers home and reimbursing them for costs incurred during the week long disruption to flights.

Andy McClenaghan from the Consumer Council said, “All airlines should be focusing their energy and efforts on getting passengers home and providing them with assistance and redress rather than arguing against EU passenger protection legislation, which was never up for negotiation. 

“The Consumer Council would like to make passengers’ entitlements absolutely clear. Passengers are entitled to[1]:

  • A full refund of their ticket or rerouting by the airline. The airline must bear the cost of rerouting.  
  • If you decide to be rerouted your airline must provide you with overnight accommodation and meals and refreshments for the period you are stranded. 
  • All passengers are entitled to two free telephone calls or emails regardless of whether they choose a refund or rerouting.
  • If you have had to pay for any these items out of your own pocket, keep all your receipts.  You will be able to claim back money from your airline as they should have paid these expenses in the first place. 
  • Passengers whose flights have been cancelled due to the volcanic ash cloud are not entitled to compensation, i.e. a payment in recognition of trouble or distress endured by passengers during this situation.  This is because the cancellations were not the fault of the airlines.   

“If you are having difficulty securing reimbursement from your airline and are getting nowhere, you should contact the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 and we will take up your complaint on your behalf.

“Whilst the Consumer Council recognises the financial impact on airlines, they were aware of the Regulation which has been in existence for over five years. Whether or not airlines wish to lobby for a change to the Regulation is a decision for them but is an issue to address over the next few weeks and months. The focus now must be in assisting passengers and getting them home.

“Airlines have a strong voice but the Consumer Council is focused on the needs of passengers.  It took a long time to get European protection for passengers in place. We will be working to ensure that their rights aren’t diluted in the future.”

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Keelin Kelly, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail,  
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at

[1]Passengers are entitled to the assistance outlined if they are:

·        Travelling from an airport within an EU member country

·        Travelling from an airport outside the EU with an airline licensed by an EU member country

Passengers travelling from an airport outside the EU with an airline licensed in a non-EU country will not be entitled to the assistance outlined.