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TRAVEL NEWS

Copenhagen Airport baggage strikes: Passengers may have right to compensation

Passengers affected by strikes conducted by baggage staff at Copenhagen Airport may be able to claim compensation for disrupted services, a consumers’ interest organisation has said.

Passengers with baggage at Copenhagen Airport
Passengers with baggage at Copenhagen Airport on February 14th 2022. Airline customers who face delays due to ongoing strikes by baggage handlers may be entitled to compensation, according to a consumer interest group. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Baggage staff at Copenhagen Airport have been engaged in a wildcat strike – meaning a strike that is not endorsed by the workers’ trade union and in breach of their collective bargaining agreement – since Saturday morning.

Those strikes continued on Monday despite the Danish labour court, Arbejdsretten, ordering the baggage handlers to resume working and ruling fines can be issued to workers who continue the walkout, broadcaster DR reported.

Dissatisfaction with wage and working conditions has been reported to be the reason for the wildcat strikes.

READ ALSO: Delays at Copenhagen Airport as baggage staff continue wildcat strikes

The Danish Consumer Council (Forbrugerrådet Tænk) said on Monday that some airline customers may be able to claim compensation for the impact on travel caused by the strikes.

“When a flight has been delayed by more than three to four hours – depending on the length of the journey – you have the right to have your flight rearranged and if you are not happy with the rearranged flight, you can get your money back,” the organisation’s senior consultant Vagn Jelsøe told Ritzau.

“Additionally, in some cases you may have the right to further compensation to an amount corresponding to the length of the journey. That can be between 250 and 600 euros,” he said.

However, the European compensation rules have some exceptions, including for delays that occurs due to “unusual circumstances” which can include strikes.

But that does not necessarily mean SAS, which owns the baggage handling company, SAS Ground Handling (SGH), will be exempt from paying compensation in the current situation.

“There are actually different court decisions relating to strikes that point in different directions,” Jelsøe said.

“How a court would end up ruling in this case, I dare not say,” he said.

The consumer rights consultant said that passengers interested in claiming compensation should begin by contacting SAS. If a claim with SAS is rejected, they can contact the Danish Civil Aviation and Railway Authority (Trafikstyrelsen).

The unsanctioned strikes could also mean luggage does not arrive on time in addition to delayed flight departures.

“If you do not have your baggage forwarded to you within a reasonable amount of time, you also have the right to claim reasonable compensation,” Jelsøe said.

According to SAS’ website, passengers whose baggage is delayed by more than 24 hours can claim compensation of around 560 kroner per day to purchase essential items.

The baggage handlers are employed by the SAS Ground Handling (SGH) company, which manages baggage for several airlines and not only SAS.

Other airlines which use the company at Copenhagen Airport include Aegean, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa.

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TRAVEL NEWS

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

The EU has announced that its Covid travel certificate will be extended until 2023 - so what does this mean if you have a trip planned this year?

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

Cleaning up the phone and thinking of getting rid of that Covid app? Just wait a minute. 

The European Union has decided to extend the use of EU Covid certificates by one year, until June 30th 2023. 

The European Commission first made the proposal in February as the virus, and the Omicron variant in particular, was continuing to spread in Europe. At that point it was “not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants,” the Commission said. 

Now tourism is taking off again, while Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries.

So the EU has taken action to ensure that travellers can continue using the so-called ‘digital green certificates’ in case new restrictions are put in place after their initial deadline of June 30th, 2022. 

What is the EU ‘digital green certificate’?

If you have travelled within the EU in the last year, you have probably already used it.

On 1st July 2021, EU countries started to introduce the ‘digital green certificate’, a Covid pass designed by the European Commission to facilitate travel between EU member states following months of restrictions.

It can be issued to EU citizens and residents who have been vaccinated against Covid, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus, as a proof of their health status. 

Although it’s called a certificate, it isn’t a separate document, it’s just a way of recognising all EU countries’ national health pass schemes.

It consists of a QR code displayed on a device or printed.

So if you live in an EU country, the QR code issued when you were vaccinated or tested can be scanned and recognised by all other EU countries – you can show the code either on a paper certificate or on your country’s health pass app eg TousAntiCovid if you’re in France or the green pass in Italy. 

Codes are recognised in all EU 27 member states, as well as in 40 non-EU countries that have joined the scheme, including the UK – full list here.

What does the extension of certificates mean? 

In practice, the legal extension of the EU Covid pass does not mean much if EU countries do not impose any restrictions.

It’s important to point out that each country within the EU decides on its own rules for entry – requiring proof of vaccination, negative tests etc so you should check with your country of destination.

All the EU certificate does is provide an easy way for countries to recognise each others’ certificates.

At present travel within the EU is fairly relaxed, with most countries only requiring negative tests for unvaccinated people, but the certificate will become more relevant again if countries impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 

According to the latest data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, countries such as France, Portugal and parts of Italy and Austria are in the red again. 

The EU legislation on the certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits such measures, but makes sure that all certificate holders are treated in the same way in any participating country. 

The EU certificate can also be used for access to venues such as bars and restaurants if countries decided to re-impose health or vaccines passes on a domestic basis.

So nothing changes?

In fact, the legislation introduces some changes to the current certificates. These include the clarification that passes issued after vaccination should reflect all doses administered, regardless of the member state where the inoculation occurred. This followed complaints of certificates indicating an incorrect number of vaccine doses when these were received in different countries.

In addition, new rules allow the possibility to issue a certificate of recovery following an antigen test and extend the range of uthorised antigen tests to qualify for the green pass. 

To support the development and study of vaccines against Covid, it will also be possible to issue vaccination certificates to people participating in clinical trials.

At the insistence of the European Parliament, the Commission will have to publish an assessment of the situation by December 31st 2022 and propose to repeal or maintain the certificate accordingly. So, while it is extended for a year, the certificate could be discontinued earlier if it will no longer be consider necessary. 

The European parliament rapporteur, Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “The lack of coordination from EU governments on travel brought chaos and disruption to the lives of millions of Europeans that simply wanted to move freely and safely throughout the EU.

“We sincerely hope that the worst of the pandemic is far behind us and we do not want Covid certificates in place a day longer than necessary.”

Vaccination requirements for the certificate

An EU certificate can be issued to a person vaccinated with any type of vaccine, but many countries accept only EMA-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva and Janssen) – if you have been vaccinated with another vaccine, you should check the rules on the country you are travelling to.  

Certificates remain valid for 9 months (270) days following a complete vaccination cycle – so if you had your vaccine more than nine months ago you will need a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

There is no requirement for a second booster, so if you have had a booster you remain ‘fully vaccinated’ even if your booster was administered more than 9 months ago. 

As of 1st March 2022, EU countries had issued almost 1.2 billion EU Covid certificates, of which 1.15 billion following vaccination, 511 million as a result of tests and 55 million after recovery from the virus. 

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Austria are the countries that have issued the largest number of EU Covid certificates. 

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