Positioning & Advocacy

Passenger Mobility Package: it’s time to go the extra mile for consumers

The Passenger Mobility Package brings good news on getting problems with package holidays and intermediaries put right, but without decent protection when travel companies and airlines go bust consumers will be left stranded yet again.

Travel is big business in the EU, nearly 1.1 billion personal or business tourism trips were made in 2022, up just over 50% since 2020. 

Euroconsumers members’ have stepped in multiple times to support consumers who have been left stranded or out of pocket by travel companies. 

  • After a five year court battle with Ryanair, our Spanish member OCU secured compensation of around €800 each for consumers who had been refused compensation airline delays, in breach of the law.
  • Since package holiday operator Thomas Cook went insolvent in 2019, our Belgian member Testachats/ Test Aankoop has dealt with over 5,000 consumers seeking help, with 1,300 seeking refunds. 
  • More recently, amid the chaos of covid-19 cancellations and disruptions, passengers who could no longer travel were offered vouchers instead of refunds, often with short validity which were useless given the ongoing uncertainty.  Our member Altroconsumo provided evidence to the Italian Antitrust Authority about airlines’ unfair voucher policies which led to fines of €510,000.

The industry has largely recovered from the pandemic’s impact and is looking forward to a brighter future. But consumers’ rights when things go wrong are still stuck in the past. 

Passenger Mobility Package: putting travellers’ rights first?

Finally, a new package of passenger rights and travel regulations have been put forward by the European Commission. These reflect the harsh lessons of canceled holidays, delayed or non-existent refunds and bankrupt travel companies that consumers faced when travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021 came in. 

The new Passenger Mobility Package has initiatives on both general passenger rights and for package travel. Package holidays made up over 20% of all tourism expenditure by EU residents according to the most recent figures from 2017 so it’s a huge part of consumer spending. 

It reflects the changes in the way people book travel and trips. Online intermediaries and self-built packages are now very popular, but can leave gaps in protections and information that leave consumers stranded or out of pocket. 

Euroconsumers broadly welcomes many parts of the new proposals, but we have major doubts that they are enough to properly protect consumers. This article gives a run down of the main elements of the Passenger Mobility Package proposals, and where consumers’ rights are still being ignored:

  • Better protection of passengers and their rights required

Amongst the positive points are new proposals for refund vouchers which caused such a headache in the pandemic. These will now only be offered on a voluntary basis and will be protected against insolvency. If a consumer declines a voucher, they will be automatically refunded. 

There will also be limits on the pre-payments that travel agencies can require of consumers, so that people won’t lose large deposits if something goes wrong. 

There’s also good news for when a crisis hits as now consumers will be able to assert travel warnings from their country as a justification for canceling a trip or flight – although this won’t be free of charge. It will also be easier to cancel a package trip if there’s a reasonable expectation of travel being affected.

Despite these gains, no airline insolvency protection scheme for consumers has made it into the text. Travel expert Julie Frère considers this a real blow for consumer protection in the EU:


There is nothing to be found about the mandatory protection of airlines against insolvency, while every year passengers lose several hundred euros in the event of bankruptcy


Julie Frère, Head Communication & Public Affairs, Testachats / Test Aankoop

  • Passenger Mobility Package needs enforcement with bite

The proposal really lets down consumers on the key matter of enforcing new and existing rights.  

Airlines know exactly what compensation they should pay, but through confusing forms and complicated requirements for evidence, and endless delays, they effectively block consumers from exercising their rights.

Consumers should not have to jump through so many hoops to get what is lawfully due to them – airlines should be required to automatically refund with minimum administrative burden on consumers when compensation is due. 

However, the proposals put forward won’t be enough to dismantle the delays and barriers consumers face. Standardized reimbursement and compensation forms for all modes of transport, and stricter obligations for transport operators to report to the authorities are welcome introductions – but they are not enough to really revolutionize consumer routes to redress. 


“Our concerns persist as the proposed policy risks becoming a mere shell, failing to address the ongoing ping-pong of consumer complaints between operators and intermediaries.”


Julie Frère, Head Communication & Public Affairs, Testachats / Test Aankoop

Stronger rules are required to make sure rules are respected and followed to the letter and spirit of the law in the travel sector.  

  • Multimodal passenger rights to be fully realised

New multimodal passenger rights aim to close gaps in protections for consumers who use a combination of different operators or modes of travel in one journey. 

Making multimodal journeys simpler and more appealing is a key aim of the EU’s strategy to get more people using public transport. A new Multimodal Digital Mobility Service is tackling this by trying to open up data and information flows so it is easier for consumers to book and track connecting travel between different modes of public transport. 

The Passenger Mobility Package deals with what happens if something were to go wrong – for example, if a delay or cancellation or liquidation of one of the companies involved impacted the whole journey.   

It splits multimodal journeys into different categories. There are journeys that might be booked as a single contract with one supplier, or through an intermediary who might use several separate contracts to make up the product.

It’s here that complications with the proposed measure start as different types of contract give consumers different protections. Basic, consistent passenger rights on information, care, assistance and re-routing should be introduced for all types of combined journeys. As it’s currently written, these rights only apply if there is a single contract (i.e. all tickets on a single contract) but not if several separate contracts (tickets) purchased from a single intermediary. 

We’re left with a bizarre situation where an online intermediary booking site selling tickets via a separate contract will comply with the law by simply informing you that you have no protection.

  • Good news on online booking intermediaries 

There’s slightly better news on intermediaries with new initiatives to establish clear refund rules. These will stop consumer claims and complaints being endlessly passed back and forth between the carrier and the intermediary which will help consumers get quicker redress. 

Passenger Mobility Package needs to be strengthened

The package contains some wins for consumers, which are a positive response to the financial losses and difficult stresses of travel during times of crisis. There’s some welcome changes on intermediaries and single contract multimodal transport, although many complexities and gaps remain.

Likewise, new ideas for improving enforcement and redress are of course welcomed but are not going to be enough to improve consumer confidence and protection.  We still think the airlines and travel companies will be able to fall back on delaying tactics to deny consumers’ what they are owed. 

Finally, the glaring omission of insolvency protection for airline passengers and the weak changes proposed on consumer cancellation rights will disappoint the thousands of consumers who are left out of pocket each year.

Euroconsumers and all of its members are tired of dealing with these large, multinational companies who year on year create so many problems for consumers. 

We will be pushing hard to make sure these elements are strengthened to make companies go the extra mile to treat consumers fairly.