Lost luggage, cancelled or delayed flights are among the most common grievances from airline passengers.

In 2006, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) received 2,979 complaints with over 600 against Irish airlines, up three times on the previous year. There were more complaints from Irish consumers than any other nationalities.

Once again, the Irish airlines top the European charts for complaints.

The main complaints related to lost luggage, flight cancellations and delays. Twenty-eight per cent of the complaints made last year remain unresolved.

Tina Leonard of the European Consumer Centre says that there is no uniform way of assessing the impact on a customer if their luggage goes missing. Many people do not hold on to receipts or proof of purchase for clothing in their lost luggage.

The report published today points to the growth of the low cost airline Ryanair as a key factor in the corresponding growth in the number of complaints.

Siobhán O'Neill of Ryanair says that out of the number of complaints that were submitted to the ECC, very few were passed on directly to the airlines. Many people do not understand their rights as the law is very confusing.

The ECC is encouraged by the fact that people are willing to complain when they receive poor service. However, it acknowledges that the rising number of complaints points to the need for greater consumer protection.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 6 December 2007. The reporter is Jonathan Clynch.