Air passenger gripes take off

The number of complaints submitted to the Greek Civil Aviation Authority in 2007 from disgruntled air travelers rose almost fivefold to 546. Data presented yesterday showed that Greek air passengers are becoming increasingly aware of violations against their rights as only 110 complaints were submitted in 2006. Three in four problems handled by local aviation authorities were settled in favor of the passenger, with most complaints addressing unjustified delays in flights or baggage loss. Airlines found to have breached travel rules were also hit with a fine. According to European Union rules, airlines must pay passengers as much as 600 euros if they are bumped off a flight due to overbooking, a fairly common practice in the industry. Similar compensation is required if an airline is held responsible for canceling a flight. Refunds for round-trip flights must be offered if the journey is no longer necessary, for example if a business meeting is missed. The amount of compensation payable depends on the length of the trip where the problems occurred. Among the list of complaints handed in by passengers was a claim for a wedding that did not take place due to the best man being stranded at an airport after his flight was postponed. Another complaint was submitted by a magician who sought compensation when his bag of magic tricks was lost by an airline and resulted in him not being able to perform. Travelers interested in finding out further information about making a complaint against an airline can contact the Civil Aviation Authority on 210.891.6510 and 210.891.6193.