Do the same rules of air travel apply to delayed ferry passengers?

Whatever the cause of the disruption, airline passengers are entitled to an unlimited duty of care

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The Independent Travel

Q. If airlines have to compensate delayed passengers, why doesn't the same apply to the ferry companies after all the trouble at Calais? Ray McGlenn

A. Earlier this month, the port of Calais, and the Channel Tunnel, were closed sporadically because of protests by MyFerryLink workers who were concerned about job losses. Tens of thousands of car and coach passengers were delayed, as well as travellers on Eurostar rail services.

The European Commission says: "Passengers need a common set of principles, so that they can be more easily aware of their rights if something goes wrong with their trip, regardless of the mode of transport." But in practice, on trains, boats and buses, as opposed to planes, travellers have few rights.

Ferry companies are required to pay back a proportion of the fare if they cause a delay, but that does not apply when the cause is beyond their control – as it manifestly was in these circumstances. That mirrors the situation with flying, although if it is the airline's fault the compensation is much more generous for airline passengers.

Whatever the cause of the disruption, airline passengers are entitled to an unlimited duty of care – with meals and accommodation provided as necessary. The airline must arrange these. In contrast, ferry passengers must find their own hotel, pay for it, and then claim it back – up to a maximum of €80 per night, for no more than three nights.

If you decide not to travel, then you will be able to get a refund of your ticket.

Eurostar passengers fare better, because the cross-Channel train operator goes well beyond its legal obligations and offers a combination of refunds, free tickets for future travel and restitution for food and accommodation expenses.

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