On August 1, Deutsche Bahn will become the first railway company to join a group of airlines.
By joining this closed circle, the German carrier will be taking over from the 26 Star Alliance airlines to enable customers to travel by train to Frankfurt airport from Munich, Berlin or Hamburg and vice versa.
With no common European law for all modes of transport, it is imperative that passengers be informed of the check-in and baggage handling conditions and the recourse in case of problems when booking their trip.
Explanations from the European Consumer Centre
In France, it has already been possible, for the last twenty years, to buy a combined ticket. That is to say, including a train journey, provided by the SNCF, and another by plane, with Air France, to reach the final destination.
The rail links replace domestic flights.
For a trip from Strasbourg to New York via Paris, for example, the trip in France can be offered by train.
You will have to go to the SNCF counter in the station (between 24 hours and 20 minutes before the train’s departure) with your plane ticket to collect the train ticket and stamp it.
However, luggage will only be picked up at the Paris airport and not at the departure station.
Freiburg – Athens via Frankfurt by train and then by plane
On August 1, Deutsche Bahn (DB) will become the first rail carrier to join an airline alliance.
Customers of the 26 Star Alliance member airlines will start or end their journey by rail without having to buy an additional ticket. For example, they can travel from Freiburg im Breisgau to Frankfurt on a DB train and then take off for Athens with a reservation made on the website of the Greek carrier Aegean Airlines.
The check-in will be done online 23 hours to 15 minutes before the departure of the train. A single boarding pass will then be issued.
This larger scale interoperability is good news for the planet since more trains means less air travel and therefore less pollution.
Nevertheless, no cross-border rail link is, for the time being, planned in this new formula. A customer boarding in Frankfurt, but leaving, for example, from Strasbourg, Nancy or Metz will have to book a train ticket via a rail company or take a bus.
The right to travel on the next flight if the train is delayed
This new collaboration will build on an existing partnership with Lufthansa: the Lufthansa Express Rail.
Passengers will travel to Frankfurt from the stations of 24 German cities before flying out to the whole world.
As with Air France, a seat is automatically reserved on the next plane if a passenger misses his or her flight due to the delay or cancellation of the train.
This guarantee is included in the general conditions of carriage and does not exist if the consumer has purchased a plane ticket and a train ticket separately (Rail & Fly).
This combination is often chosen by tour operators and travel agencies as part of a package tour, as it is more flexible. Organizers are responsible for the replacement of passengers in case of missed connections if the purchase of the train ticket is included in the services.
No common European law for all modes of transport
The European Union guarantees separate rights for rail passengers and air travelers. But there is no common legislation for air and rail.
In the absence of a text governing all modes of transport, there is no guarantee that the consumer will be reimbursed for the ticket and compensated for the entire journey. However, it is advisable to make the request to the airline company since it is with them that the combined ticket was purchased.
In order to put an end to this legal uncertainty, the European Consumer Centre therefore calls for the creation of a European passenger law common to all modes of transport. This new regulation would guarantee a set of solid rights for users.
In case of a problem between a French passenger and a German company or another country of the European Union, the European Consumer Centre and the European Consumer Centre France are competent to help to resolve the dispute amicably.
To learn more about consumer protection, visit cec-zev.eu