European airlines had to pay food and lodging costs for passengers stranded in U.S. airports during the recent ash cloud crisis -- but most U.S. airlines did not have to do the same for passengers stuck in Europe. Now the European Commission says U.S. carriers should be bound by European customer-care laws when operating at European airports, though enforcement would be left up to individual countries within the EU. A State Department official says the question is a "gray area" under existing agreements, and a spokesman for American Airlines says the European statute "was never intended for an event that drags on day after day after day like we've just seen." Europe's own airlines are taking a similar position, demanding compensation for expenses racked up during the airspace closure and seeking changes in the law to limit such losses in the future.

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