As the summer progresses, many EU citizens are planning their summer holidays or, if they already have booked their travel, they might be wondering what problems they might encounter in face of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Adina Vălean, EU Commissioner for Transport, held an online chat on 9 July to answer all their questions about travel, passenger rights and tourism.
Many of the questions touched upon the right for reimbursement for cancelled flights. Participants wanted to know what the Commission is doing to ensure everyone is protected and what the deadlines for reimbursement were. Commissioner Vălean reminded that, even if air companies can offer vouchers, reimbursement remains a right by law if passengers prefer that option, and that the deadline for reimbursement is seven days.
On a similar topic, many participants asked about a recent practice by which some airlines are selling tickets and shortly after informing the buyer of the cancellation of the flight, refusing to refund.
Another participant asked if a trip in August or September could still be on the cards. The Commissioner replied that we cannot predict the epidemiological situation in each Member State, and advised citizens to monitor the situation in their potential destination, with the help, for example, of the Re-open EU website.
Many participants asked the Commissioner why travelling from or to third countries to visit loved ones is not considered essential travel. There were many other questions, such as on the cleanness and sanitization of airports or on advice on how to plan holidays and sightseeing without spreading the virus. Commissioner Vălean answered that until we have an effective treatment or vaccine, we have to live with the virus and respect recommendations, such as wearing a mask, washing our hands and keeping social distancing. Concerning airports, she said the Commission had issued concrete guidelines and is currently working with all relevant authorities to make sure EU airports are in the best possible condition.
Replying to a question from a Romanian participant, the Commissioner took the opportunity to reiterate the European Commission’s stance on the Mobility Package I and the subsequent impact assessments which are underway.