Rotten luck seems to be following Mattia Zinner, 31, on his travels lately.
Over the past five years, four of his trips have involved lengthy delays or cancellations, including one adventure—on a flight from London to Venice, Italy—that caused him to arrive a full day late.
But there is an upside: Thanks to the airlines’ strong consumer protection rules in Europe, in each case, the customer service specialist’s expenses were reimbursed out of his own pocket. Mr Zenere also received additional hardship damages from the airline for three of the outages.
“The law really works,” he said.
For travelers weary of US air travel, similar protections may be on the horizon — and airlines aren’t too happy about that. This week, President Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, announced plans to introduce new rules this year that would require airlines to pay compensation for travel disruptions they cause.
In the wake of waves of pandemic-era flight disruptions and a fiasco that forced Southwest Airlines to cancel 16,700 flights for the winter holidays, Biden is betting that Americans will want the kind of protections Europeans (and non-Europeans traveling in Europe) have had since Almost 20 years.
EU law is common and generous. A flight delayed by more than three hours is considered cancelled, and the passenger is entitled to between €250 ($273) and €600 in compensation. Return is determined by flight distance, not ticket price, which airlines have long objected to.
Airlines can dispute payments by arguing that the turbulence was caused by unusual circumstances such as bad weather, a strike by air traffic controllers, or an “out of the ordinary” technical problem with the aircraft. But European courts continue to narrow the definition of “exceptional”. This week, someone ruled that even the death of a co-pilot does not cause the airline to reimburse customers for delays.
The Biden plan requires cash refunds for major delays or cancellations. The president also wants to compensate travelers for meals, hotels, ground transportation and rebooking fees. US airlines are not currently required to provide monetary compensation for delays or cancellations; They must compensate passengers who are “bumped” from flights.
This is not enough, Biden said. “You deserve to be fully compensated. Your time matters. The impact on your life matters.”
European legislation has changed how airlines schedule flights, “With special emphasis now on punctuality,” a spokesperson for Eurocontrol, the intergovernmental organization that helps manage Europe’s commercial airspace, told DealBook. However, with air travel booming, EU flight data shows that delays are a growing problem.
Airlines oppose compensation laws. “Airlines already have financial incentives to get their passengers to their destination as planned.” Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, a lobbying group, said in a statement criticizing the Biden plan. “The additional layer of expenses that these regulations will impose will not create a new incentive, but will have to be compensated for – which will likely have an impact on ticket prices.” The Steer Group, an independent advisory firm, calculated that in 2018 European airlines had a combined €5 billion in expenses to process the volume of compensation claims and pay merit claims. For every passenger who crashes, the airline incurs an average cost of €138.
Regulation of air passenger rights in Europe was not a panacea. It can take a long time and frustrate you to secure your claim money. Mr. Zenere, for one, is still arguing with Wizz Air, the airline that delayed his flight to Venice last year. He said they underpaid, and still owed him €250 for the aborted flight. He said, “I know my rights.” – Bernard Warner
Tell us what you think: What changes would you like to see introduced to make the air travel experience more seamless? Email us at [email protected].
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George Santos pleads not guilty. The Long Island Republican congressman faces 13 counts of fraud, including money laundering, wire fraud, making false statements and stealing public funds. The indictment does not immediately bar him from serving in the House of Representatives, and it would take two-thirds of the vote to expel him, meaning Republicans should join the Democrats.
Plane crash to watch youtube. A 29-year-old pilot and diver has admitted to intentionally crashing a small plane near Santa Barbara, California, as part of a video he shot for product sponsorship. He faces up to 20 years in prison for obstructing a federal investigation by cleaning up the crash site.
Few video games have been as revolutionary as Nintendo Legend of Zelda, the action-adventure series that launched in 1986. Now, nearly 40 years later, the Japanese company has unveiled the latest installment of the franchise, Tears of the Kingdom, hoping that game Lived up to great anticipation.
It was released yesterday (some fans took a day off to play) and it’s expected to be a hit. But will that be enough to offset Nintendo’s slowing 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 hugely successful. But the Switch is facing increased competition, and gamers are generally holding back from buying expensive hardware. New projects, like the “Super Mario Bros. Movie” provided a boost. But Nintendo has no plans to launch a significant new console within the next year.
Nevertheless, the Zelda Franchise is a valuable asset with a long history and a rabid fan base. Here’s a look at the game and its commercial importance in numbers:
29 million: Copies of Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s most popular Zelda game, have sold out.
10.3 million: YouTube views of a four-minute teaser trailer for the new Tears of the Kingdom, which has been meticulously analyzed by top fans for hints about the upcoming release.
$69.99: Tears of the Kingdom’s price tag is $10 more than what Nintendo usually charges for new games.
125 million: The total number of Switch consoles Nintendo has sold as of March 31, according to the company’s website.
15 million: The number of Switch consoles Nintendo expects to sell this fiscal year, after selling 18 million Switch units in the year ending March. “Maintaining Switch sales momentum is going to be tough in its seventh year,” Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said on an investor call this week, according to Bloomberg.
On our radar: “BlackBerry”
Movies about Silicon Valley tech giants like Apple and Facebook have captured the drama behind companies and their larger-than-life founders. BlackBerry, which hit theaters yesterday, is the latest movie that tells the story of a groundbreaking company. The telephone, with its tiny keyboard, was so transformative and a mainstay of executives’ lives that it became known as the “crackberry.” But the real theme of the film is the relationship between the technicians behind the device and the executives who turned it into a thriving business. And while BlackBerry caught on amazingly well in the iPhone era, reviewers found much of the film’s current relevance. Janet Catsoulis wrote for The New York Times: “Perhaps more than anything else, ‘BlackBerry’ highlights the vulnerability and exploitation of creators in a cruel market.”
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