It’s always good to know before you go. With the school summer holidays now in full swing, we’ve put together some key facts that could help if you’re travelling to another EU country, including advice on travel rights and using your mobile while you’re away.

Watch this video of Labour’s European Consumer Spokesperson Catherine Stihler MEP explaining your rights on your holidays.

Your EU travel rights

If you’re lucky enough to be flying off on holiday this summer, then your EU rights should help make the journey trouble free – but it pays to know what you’re entitled to. Labour’s Catherine Stihler MEP explains your travel rights when flying in or out of any EU airport in this video.

Hopefully you won’t face serious delays, but if you do then your airline is under a legal obligation to care for its passengers, including providing refreshments and if necessary accommodation.

Key facts:

  • If your flight is seriously delayed then you have a right to support from the airline
  • Depending on circumstances this can include phone calls, refreshments, meals and, where a delay results in an overnight stay, accommodation.
  • Your airline is required to act after two hours for shorter flights or three or four hours for longer flights.
  • Your airline must tell you about what you are entitled to. If you are delayed, ask about your rights under EU law.
  • The EU rights apply to all flights departing or arriving in an EU country.
  • As well as a right to care by the airline, compensation may be payable, particularly if your flight is overbooked and you are unable to fly.
  • Always speak to your airline before taking any action.
  • In extraordinary circumstances, such as last year’s ash cloud crisis, you might not be entitled to compensation, but the airline still has a responsibility to care for delayed passengers, including providing meals and accommodation.

Find out more information from the European Commission:

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passenger-rights/en/index.html 

Mobile phone roaming

The EU has already taken action to drive down the cost to mobile phone users of texting and calling while away in another EU country.

But with people now using their mobiles to access emails, share photos and stay in touch with friends on social networks, the high cost of downloading data abroad can lead to frighteningly high bills.

Before you travel, contact your network to tell them how much you’re willing to spend on data charges while you are away. Your network has to let you set a cap, so your holiday doesn’t end with a nasty surprise when you return.

Key facts:

  • The cost of making and receiving calls and sending texts have come down thanks to EU action.
  • The average cost of sending a text while abroad in the EU used to be 40 pence. That’s come down to around 11 pence.
  • Receiving a call should only cost around 11 pence per minute.
  • Making calls back home or to other numbers in the EU will cost around 36 pence minute.
  • Your network must send a text when you arrive abroad to tell you about the costs of using your phone.
  • The cost of accessing data services, including accessing emails, websites, social networking sites and many apps, can be high and prices are currently unregulated.
  • Mobile networks must offer customers the ability to set a cap on the amount they spend on data charges while in another EU country.
  • Plans are already in train to set new price caps on data roaming from next summer.

The EU price caps are set in euros before VAT. The exchange rate with sterling is set annually. The prices above are approximate and based on the exchange rate currently used and 20 per cent VAT.

Find out more information from the European Commission:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm 

112 emergency calls

Hopefully you’ll never have to dial 112, but if the worst does happen while you are away, then every second counts. That means it is worth remembering that in an emergency, wherever you are in Europe, you can speak to the emergency services by dialling 112.

Key facts:

  • The 112 emergency number works in all European countries, including those not in the EU.
  • Even outside of the Europe, your mobile phone should be programmed so that 112 will put you through to the local emergency services.
  • A trained operator will answer the emergency call. They may transfer you to the relevant service, like in Britain, or deal with your call directly.
  • Be ready to give your give your name, location and telephone number.
  • Only use 112 for genuine emergencies – similar to those cases where you would dial 999 in Britain.

  Find out more information from the European Commission:

 http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/112/index_en.htm

Health Insurance

Before you head off on holiday to any EU country, make sure you apply for your European health insurance card. It will help cover the cost of emergency treatment if you fall ill while you’re away.

It isn’t a replacement for travel insurance, so you should still make sure you have adequate cover, but some insurers require you to have the European card.

Key facts:

  • The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to access emergency health treatment on the same basis as a resident in the country you are visiting.
  • This means that you may still be liable to pay some of the costs of your treatment.
  • When using the EHIC card, always seek out state provided medical care, as using private providers could result in medical bills not covered by EHIC.
  • You should still take out adequate travel insurance.
  • The small-print of some travel insurance policies requires you to have an EHIC card.
  • Some private companies charge for processing an application for an EHIC card, but they can be obtained free of charge from the NHS.

Find out more information from the NHS:

http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/Introduction.aspx 

If you have any questions about your EU rights, get in touch with your MEP. You can find contact details for all Labour MEPs here.