Mattia Zenere, 31, seems to have had some bad luck on his travels lately.
In the last five years, four of his flights have experienced long delays or cancellations, including a mishap – on a trip from London to Venice, Italy – that caused him to arrive a full day late.
But there is a glimmer of hope: Thanks to the strict European consumer protection regulations for airlines, the customer service representative was reimbursed for his expenses in any case. Mr. Zenere also received additional hardship compensation from the airline for three of the disruptions.
“The law really works,” he said.
Similar protections could be on the horizon for weary air travelers across the US – and airlines aren’t happy about it. This week President Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation, announced plans to introduce new rules this year that would require airlines to pay for travel disruptions they cause.
After waves of pandemic-era flight disruptions and the fiasco that forced Southwest Airlines to cancel 16,700 flights around the winter break, Biden is betting Americans will want the kind of protection that Europeans (and non-Europeans, who fly in Europe) have been enjoying for almost 20 years.
EU law is popular – and generous. A flight delayed for more than three hours is considered canceled and the passenger is entitled to compensation ranging from 250 euros (US$273) to 600 euros. The payout is based on flight distance rather than ticket price, which airlines have long objected to.
Airlines can contest payments on the grounds that the disruption was caused by extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather, an air traffic controllers’ strike or an “extraordinary” technical problem with the aircraft. However, European courts continue to narrow the definition of “extraordinary”. It was decided this week that even the death of a co-pilot will not stop an airline from paying its customers compensation for a delay.
Biden’s plan would include a cash refund in the event of significant delays or cancellations. The President also wants travelers to be compensated for meals, hotels, ground transportation, and rebooking fees. US airlines are not currently required to offer cash compensation for delays or cancellations; They must compensate passengers who are “kicked” by flights.
That’s not enough, Mr. Biden said. “You deserve to be fully compensated. Your time is important. The impact on your life is important.”
European legislation has changed the way airlines schedule flights. “The focus now is particularly on punctuality of arrival,” a spokesman for Eurocontrol, the intergovernmental organization that helps manage Europe’s commercial airspace, told DealBook. Still, with air travel booming, EU flight data shows delays are a growing problem.
Airlines oppose compensation laws. “Airlines already have financial incentives to get their passengers to their destinations as scheduled,” Willie Walsh, the director general of the International Air Transport Association, a lobby group, criticized the Biden plan in a statement. “The additional costs that this regulation entails will not create any new incentive, but they will have to be recouped – which will likely have an impact on ticket prices.” Steer Group, an independent consultancy, has calculated that European airlines in the year A total of 5 billion euros was spent in 2018 to process the amount of compensation claims and to pay out the legitimate claims. The airline incurred an average cost of 138 euros for each disturbed passenger.
The European Air Passenger Rights Regulation was not a panacea. It can still be time consuming and frustrating to secure claim funds. Mr Zenere, for example, is still at odds with Wizz Air, the airline that postponed his trip to Venice last year. You paid too little, he said, and still owe him 250 euros for the canceled trip. “I know my rights,” he said. — Bernard Warner
Tell us what you think: What changes would you like to see implemented to make the flight experience smoother? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Elon Musk’s new employee. The entrepreneur named Linda Yaccarino to succeed him as CEO of Twitter. Yaccarino, the former advertising executive at NBCUniversal, will take over a company struggling to grow its advertising business.
Where’s Ron DeSantis? The Florida governor banned state officials from releasing his travel records, prompting critics to warn that he is trying to hide harmful information as he prepares for a possible presidential bid. Steve Schwarzman, billionaire co-founder of investment giant Blackstone and major Republican financier, recently met with the Florida governor but is not confident in his chances of success, according to Bloomberg.
George Santos pleaded not guilty. The first-term Republican congressman from Long Island has been charged with 13 counts of fraud, including money laundering, wire fraud, false testimony and theft of public funds. The impeachment doesn’t immediately bar him from serving in the House of Representatives, and it would take a two-thirds majority to bar him, meaning Republicans would have to join Democrats.
A plane crash for YouTube views. A 29-year-old pilot and skydiver has admitted intentionally crashing a light plane near Santa Barbara, California, in a video he filmed for a product sponsorship. He faces up to 20 years in prison for obstructing a federal investigation by cleaning up the crash site.
The Shop of Zelda
Few video games have been as revolutionary as Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda, the action-adventure series that launched way back in 1986. Now, almost 40 years later, the Japanese company has unveiled the latest installment in the franchise, Tears of the Kingdom, and hopes that the game lives up to the high expectations.
It was released yesterday (some fans took the day off to play) and is expected to be a hit. But will it be enough to offset Nintendo’s declining sales? The company last released a new console, the Switch, in 2017, the same year it released its last Zelda game, Breath of the Wild. Both were extremely successful. But the Switch is facing growing competition and gamers are generally reluctant to buy expensive hardware. New ventures like The Super Mario Bros. Movie have provided a boost. However, Nintendo has no plans to launch a crucial new console within the next year.
Still, the Zelda franchise is a valuable asset with a long history and an avid fan base. Here’s a look at the game and its business impact by the numbers:
29 million: Sold copies of Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s most popular Zelda game.
10.3 million: Number of YouTube views of a 4-minute trailer for the new game Tears of the Kingdom, which has been carefully analyzed by superfans for clues about the upcoming release.
$69.99: The price of Tears of the Kingdom is a $10 increase over what Nintendo normally charges for new games.
125 million: Total number of Switch consoles Nintendo has sold as of March 31, according to the company’s website.
15 million: Number of Switch consoles Nintendo expects to sell this fiscal year, having sold 18 million Switch units in the year ended March. “It will be difficult to maintain the sales momentum of the Switch in its seventh year,” Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said in a call to investors this week, according to Bloomberg.
On our radar: “BlackBerry”
Movies about Silicon Valley tech titans like Apple and Facebook have captured the drama behind the companies and their larger-than-life founders. Blackberry, which hit theaters yesterday, is the latest film to tell the story of a groundbreaking company and the relationships behind the characters who ran it. The phone, with its tiny little keypad, was transformative and such an integral part of executive life that it became known as “Crackberry”. But the real subject of the film is the relationship between the technologists behind the device and the executives who turned it into a booming company. And while the BlackBerry may have been spectacular in the iPhone era, reviewers have noted that the film is still relevant today. “Perhaps more than anything else, ‘BlackBerry’ underscores the vulnerability and exploitability of creators in a cutthroat market,” wrote Jeannette Catsoulis for the New York Times.
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