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Economy Class Travel

Let me tell you™, I have been travelling economy class all my life, since my first flight as a one month old baby on the trip from Belgrade, Serbia to Pula, Croatia. I imagine myself on my number one flight looking at a first class baby happily kicking across her own seat and sipping on organic milk, while the rest of us babies flying economy, sit strapped to our moms’ laps, yet to get any attention from flight attendants.

You see, the objective was always just to get to a destination. The means didn’t matter. As a direct result, I’ve experienced all that economy class can offer: smelly people, very smelly people, extremely smelly people, arm-rest stealers, talkers, fanatics, music blasters, flight attendants immune to my buzzer, angry people too big for economy class seat, seductors and seductresses, and my favorite - people in the row behind me, kicking me the entire trip or even worse, asking me not to lower my seat for an entire cross-Atlantic flight.

In my Eastern European travels, I’ve experienced live and dead animals and complete chaos…but that is another story.

It is not until very recently, after my flight from New York to Berlin and a life long torture of economy class, that I landed super tired from all that economy class knows to offer. I only wanted to sleep. The thought of running around Berlin produced even more pain in my body that was strapped to a small economy “no stretching possible” seat for 7+ hours.

That was exactly when I added “First Class Travel Only” to my New Year’s Resolution List.

That First Class trip is yet to take place, but in the meantime I have some good news for all fellow economy class travellers. The European Union government gave their final approval last month to ease some of our travel pains and give us more passenger rights.

The new law will force all airlines, including charter airlines for the first time, flying to and from EU airports to compensate us for some of the troubles we often go through when travelling.

Delays of at least two hours - for whatever reason - would trigger automatic compensation, such as free meals and phone calls.

If a flight is at least five hours late - a passenger must be offered either a refund of a full ticket price if the flight no longer serves any purpose - such as getting somewhere in time for a meeting - or rebooking onto the earliest flight home.

If delayed overnight - airlines will automatically have to offer a free hotel room.

If you fall victim to overbooking - you get 600 euros for long-haul flights.
For medium-length trips you get 400 euros, and for short trips you get 250 euros. Overbooking is more common in Europe than in the States. On average, 250,000 European passengers fall victim to overbooking each year.

Compensation payments will not apply to passengers whose flights are cancelled for bad weather, technical problems, strikes or terrorism.

So know your rights! Ease your travels!

The new passengers rights come into effect in 2005 across the European Union. By 2005 my 2004 New Year Resolution should come into effect as well, and I will be pampered in the first class like that imaginary baby sipping on organic milk. I will sleep the whole way on a spacious jetliner seat that transforms into a proper bed. I will wake up rested and ready to explore.

After all, I deserve it.

By danijela on Feb 8, 2004 in