“Arbitration board for air passengers.” Created on 03 May 2013 by the Bundesrat to support consumers traveling by air. Starting November 2013, passengers in Germany can contact this office to seek information about passenger rights and financial remuneration from airports and airlines after e.g. delayed connections, missed connections and/or lost luggage. What airlines owe passengers after which screwups is also being defined in regulations.
Update on 01 Nov 2013: German air passengers can now contact the Schlichtungsstelle für den öffentlichen Personenverkehr [German Conciliation Body for Public Transport] to start arbitration proceedings in disputes with airlines. German rail, bus and ship passengers already had this right from that office. Costs for the proceedings will be paid by German transport companies; passengers requiring arbitration in a transport dispute will only have to pay their own costs.
The söp’s charming and helpful English page stated,
“A traveller can get help with a complaint about delays and missed connections, train and plane cancellations, damaged or lost luggage, faulty information, tickets and reservations, and/or bad service. The main task of the söp is the out-of-court settlement of individual disputes between travellers and the transport companies. Within this, söp also helps to strengthen the customer satisfaction with the transport company. […]”
“The söp follows a service and practical approach, as intermodal (‘verkehrsträgerübergreifende’) settlement scheme. It is common for travellers to use more than one form of transport (e.g., train to plane), which can take up a lot of time in a dispute by investigating the whole chain of transport, including the responsible contracted partners. With the söp the consumer does not have to deal with the question of responsibility and can, independent from the transport of choice, just deal with one contact person at söp (one-face-to-the-customer-approach).”
(SCHLICHH toongz shtell ah foor FLOOG rye zen dah.)