Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Australia: compensation for inhaling smoke from pyrolysed oil in cabin of aircraft

The New South Wales Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by East-West Airlines against a flight attendant who inhaled smoke in an aircraft cabin 18 years ago and had developed a persistent cough. The New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal had previously found that due to the smoke from pyrolysed oil she was exposed to dust, which caused her to develop her cough and awarded the flight attendant $139,000.

East West Airlines Ltd v. Turner [2010] NSWCA 53; BC201001873 - 01 Apr 2010 - Supreme Court of New South Wales, Court of Appeal.

Judgement available here>>.

Germany: reference for preliminary ruling of the ECJ with regard to Reg. 261/2004

A German court (Amtsgericht Köln) has recently filed a reference for preliminary ruling with regard to the follwoing question:

Does Article 4(3) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 ( 1 ) apply to a passenger with a confirmed reservation for an outward and a return flight who does not present herself for boarding for the return flight owing to the following circumstances:
  • The operating air carrier denied the passenger, who had presented herself punctually for boarding for the outward flight, boarding against her will and announced its intention of denying her boarding on the return flight.
  • Boarding was denied because of the operating air carrier’s mistaken assumption that, because of a chargeback, it was entitled to a processing fee, which the passenger had not yet paid?

Case C-226/10 - Hannelore Adams v. Germanwings GmbH

Source: Official Journal of the European Union C 209/15

Austria: new Supreme Court decision on loss of holiday enjoyment

A couple booked a package holiday arrangement for their honeymoon in Egypt at EUR 1.448. Back home they complained about improper performance and assigned their claims to a consumer protection association (Verein für Konsumenteninformation - VKI) which sued for a price reduction of EUR 1.320,90 and compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment of EUR 560 (deducting a refund of EUR 141 by the tour operator).

First instance court (Bezirksgericht für Handelssachen Wien) granted additional EUR 150,60 comprising of a price reduction of 5 % for a defect air condition, 5 % for construction noise and another 10 % for an insufficient beach space (contrary to promises in the brochure) but dismissed the claim for compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment.

Appelate court (Commercial Court Vienna - Handelsgericht Wien) doubled the price reduction by granting additional 5 % for bad water quality of the pool, 5 % for ponding the room when flowers were watered and another 10 % for noise during the night. However, appelate court upheld dismissal of the claim for compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment: the shortcomings had not exceeded the threshold of relevance.

Upon further appeal by the plaintiff, Supreme Court in judgement 2 Ob 45/10x of June 17, 2010 emphasized the different legal nature and purpose of price reduction on the one hand and compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment on the other. Following a previous decision, Supreme Court decided in favour of a rather low threshold of relevance and granted the claim for compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment. However, Supreme Court disagreed with the view that the threshold of relevance with regard to loss of holiday enjoyment should be equated with any shortcoming more than negligible under warranty law.

The total grant thus amounted to EUR 1.002,20. Supreme Court noted that the price reduction granted by the appelate court (which was not subject of his decison) was "very generous" in favour of the claimants.

1) Even given this generous grant, the consumer protection association only succeeded with roughly 58 % of the claim - which proves a tendency of the assocoation to sue for excessive amounts.
2) The fact that it was a honeymoon trip was not decisive.

Full text of judgement 2 Ob 45/10x of June 17, 2010 available in German here>>.

Friday, August 13, 2010

UK: airlines fail to comply with EU passenger compensation rules

The UK Air Transport Users Council (AUC), set up and funded by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to help protect the interests of air travellers, says that airlines are repeatedly failing to meet their obligations under European Union law to aid passengers affected by delays and cancellations. Between April and June, AUC received more than 7,500 complaints from travelers, many of them resulting from carriers refusing to compensate accommodation costs for passengers stranded during the volcanic ash crisis.

Source: AUC press release>>.

Thailand to review regulations to attract more tourists

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij announced that Thailand is willing to review regulations in the tourism sector to give more access to foreign investors and professionals in a move to attract more visitors.

Find full article here>>.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

ISO: Focus on Travel

The July/August 2010 issue of ISO Focus+, the magazine of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), features some of the key standards that facilitate travel covering issues such as safety and security of travellers (machine readable passports, visas and travel documents , biometrics); travel and tourism signboards ; the proposed new ISO standard for adventure tourism (activity conducted by the ISO Technical Committee ISO/TC228Tourism and Related Services ),other areas such as quality management (ISO 9001:2008 certification), ISO standards regarding energy and water, food and beverages, air filtration and HVAC systems, furniture, cosmetics and their implementation in the accommodation sector . But, there are also two other ISO standards in relation with the protection of consumers which are mentioned in this ISO Focus+ Issue (particularly with the reference to the consequences of the Icelandic volcano crisis and future similar crisis). These are respectively the ISO 31000 : 2009 Risk Management Standard and the ISO 26000: 2010 Guidance on Social Responsibility Standard ( including the consumer affairs).

Information passed on to IFTTA by Patrice Tedjini, UNWTO.

Find further details here>>.

Monday, August 09, 2010

USA begins to collect entry fees on travellers from Visa Waiver countries

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will begin collecting fees on travellers from Visa Waiver countries beginning Sept. 8, 2010. Travellers will be charged a USD 10 fee when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). A portion of the fee will go toward funding the Corporation for Travel Promotion, created by the 2009 Travel Promotion Act. Customs and Border Protection, the DHS unit that is overseeing the process, also established a USD 4 cost-recovery fee for the ESTA program, meaning the total to visitors will be USD 14.

Currently, travelers from Visa Waiver countries are required to log on to a secure U.S. government ESTA website, enter their passport information and expected itinerary, and wait for an electronic authorization, which is good for multiple entries for two years.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

Friday, August 06, 2010

New York: new hotel tax targets online agencies

Online travel agencies and other hotel resellers will have to start paying higher taxes in New York from September. The legislation defines remarketers as anyone who "reserves, arranges for, conveys or furnishes occupancy, whether directly or indirectly, to an occupant for rent in an amount determined by the room remarketer" and requires all hotel room resellers to pay the 4% state sales tax on the retail rate, not just the wholesale rate.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

Europe: tour guides in clash with tour operators over proposed ID-badge

The Federation of European Tourist Guide Associations (FEG) is outraged over European Tour Operator Association’s (ETOA) decision to produce its own pan-European ID-badge for anyone who guides tourists. According to ETOA, the main objective of this proposed pan-European ID scheme, is to support the freedom of those who deliver cultural commentary to tourists in public places. FEG, however, qualifies the move as an attempt to circumvent the need for area-specific professional qualification.

FEG press release available here>>.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Canada: class action against Air Canada over price disclosure

A motion filed on July 16, 2010 by Union des consommateurs du Québec against Air Canada (proposing that the action cover all residents of the province of Québec who have purchased tickets directly from Air Canada since June 30), alleges that Air Canada failed to disclose the complete price of its tickets in its paper and electronic advertisements as well as on its website.; in particular additional charges such as airport improvement fees and 9/11 security charges were added to the advertised prices.

The motion claims for reimbursement of all fees and charges paid beyond the advertised price and the payment of $100 in punitive damages for each affected consumer.

Source: Union des consommateurs du Québec (French)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Spain: UNWTO concerned about abolition of Spanish Tourism Secretariat

In a press release, UNWTO expressed great concern over Spain's decision to abolish a separate Secretariat for Tourism within the ministry of tourism, industry and trade:

While the decision of the Spanish Government to implement a series of austerity measures to address the public deficit is fully understandable, UNWTO expressed great concern that such measures have translated into the end of a separate Secretariat for Tourism. This decision sends out the wrong message to the market and comes at a critical moment, at the beginning of the tourism high season and as the sector still struggles to recover from the loses of 2009.

Source: UNWTO press release of July 26, 2010; find full text here>>.

Iceland: Conference on Eyjafjalljokull and Aviation

Keilir Aviation Academy, in cooperation with the Icelandic Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Administration, ISAVIA, the Meteorological Office, the Institute of Earth Sciences, Icelandair, the Association of European Airlines, and the US Embassy in Iceland, will convene a conference on Eyjafjallajökull and Aviation at Keflavik Airport, Iceland, on September 15-16, 2010.

Fundamental themes of concern to the air transportation industry today will be addressed in eight sessions covering the following topics:

• What happened in Eyjafjallajökull?
• Why was Europe´s airspace closed?
• What procedures were followed?
• What has been learned?
• What are the effects of volcanic ash on airplanes and can they be reduced?
• What steps are to be taken and by whom to minimize the threats that volcanic ash poses to aviation?

Find detailed information here>>.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

USA: Travel Association Launches Gulf Oil Spill Information Website

The U.S. Travel Association announced the launch of www.GulfTravelUpdate.com , a portal site that centralizes links to up-to-date travel and recovery information on Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi - the states directly affected by the BP Oil Spill. GulfTravelUpdate.com includes links to traveler information from federal, state and local sources, plus oil spill news coverage and a map featuring the spill's impact on gulf shores from media partner USA Today.

Source: Travel Pulse; find article here>>.

Canada: investigation on passenger face control by airlines

Transport Minister John Baird has ordered an investigation into whether airlines are enforcing rules that require staff to see the faces of passengers who board their flights. He said in a statement that there are procedures in place to verify the identity of anyone who has their face covered, adding the approach is consistent with international standards, regardless of culture or religion.

Find full article here>>.