Berlin (dpa) - Delays, loss of luggage and canceled flights: Problems with air, bus and train travel have led to thousands of complaints to the arbitration board for public transport this year.
Managing Director Heinz Klewe told the German Press Agency that he expects around 26,000 applications by the end of the year. This is the second highest number after 2018, when the summer flight chaos had doubled the number of complaints.
"The measures initiated or already implemented by the aviation industry and politicians are obviously having an effect," Klewe explained the decline.
If the exception year 2018 is left out, the number of complaints has been increasing for years. "Consumers are increasingly using arbitration as a free and stress-free alternative to going to court for them." This year, Klewe said, an agreement was reached in 90 percent of the cases.
Complaints from rail and long-distance bus customers have increased, but are less significant. By the end of November, 2939 rail customers had contacted the arbitration board, one percent more than in the same period last year. For comparison: Around 300,000 customers complained directly to Deutsche Bahn in the past year alone. 577 long-distance bus customers also turned to the arbitrators by the end of November, 7 percent more than a year earlier.
The SÖP is recognized by the Federal Government as an arbitration board for rail, air traffic, long-distance buses and ships. For the most part, it is about compensation for delays or cancellations of flights and train journeys. Around 400 transport companies participate in the arbitration process, which they finance themselves.
Since December, consumers who are dissatisfied with a trip booked online can also complain there. The providers Ebookers, Evaneos, Expedia, HolidayCheck, Journaway and Weg.de are involved. "With our entry into travel arbitration, we are getting closer to the goal of offering solutions to existing disputes in the entire field of travel and transport," said Klewe. "However, it will probably take some time before the tour operators also decide to take part in the arbitration process."