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New travel rights smartphone app

Man using a mobile phone on a planeGoing on holiday appears to have become a risky business in the past few years.

In recent years, overseas travellers have had to contend with delays caused by the likes of volcanic ash clouds, extreme weather, and a string of holiday-firm collapses.

Figures published by Kelkoo Travel showed that UK individuals made £26 million worth of compensation claims last year as a result of travel companies going out of business.

But the company said that around 6,000 customers had failed to claim the cash they were entitled to.

So, while all holidaymakers should make sure they are covered with a comprehensive travel insurance policy, it also pays to know your rights when it comes to travel problems.

Know your rights

With this in mind, the European Commission has come up with a new smartphone app called Your Passenger Rights to guide consumers through the complex regulations than apply to air and rail journeys.

The smartphone app is free and available for iPhone and iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

At present, it covers the EU-wide rules relating to air and rail travel.

From next year, sections on bus and coach travel, as well as journeys by sea, will be added when new rights come into effect.

Instant information

The aim of the app is to provide travellers with instant information about their rights, to give them a better chance of sorting out problems more quickly.

The European Commissionts transport vice-president, Siim Kallas, says: "How many of us have stood in an airport and felt the frustration of people telling you that you have no rights when you know you have?

"With this application, millions of travellers can have easy access to the right information about their passenger rights when they most need it, when unexpected situations arise."

In theory, passengers would be able to show or quote the relevant rule to, for example, airline staff in the event of a flight being delayed.

This could speed up the provision of the food, drink and even accommodation that carriers are duty bound to provide if things go wrong.

Is the app any good?

Travellers rights with regards to delays and cancellations have been notoriously complex, although politicians in the UK and Europe are trying to put matters right.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that airlines and travel companies can drag their feet when it comes to paying compensation.

Similarly, refunds for trips that are cancelled or cut short when holiday firms go bust can also take months to appear due to slow bureaucratic procedures.

But this app does appear to be a good starting point to help travellers work out what they are entitled to if something goes wrong.

Flight compensation

For example, the program informs users that they could be entitled to compensation of between 125 and 600 Euros (around £100 and £480) if their flight is cancelled.

However, this would not be payable if they were informed more than a fortnight before the scheduled departure, or if the airline came up with an alternative, but no less convenient, schedule.

Each section contains links to the full legislation. So if you think it might be useful to quote this to a particularly difficult holiday-company employee, go right ahead.

The application also comes clean over instances in which EU regulations can’t help. For example, if there are errors on your flight booking it is up to you and the airline to sort matters out.

Overall though, along with a decent travel insurance policy, this app is well worth taking with you on holiday this year.

Going on holiday? Click the link to read the our guide to the top 10 travel apps.


Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris