The news of refund and compensation by airlines, got us wondering what exactly are a passenger’s rights and responsibilities.
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According to Oxford Dictionary, a right is a moral or legal entitlement while responsibility is the opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization. Travelling confers passengers with rights and also responsibilities.
The rights and responsibilities of passengers travelling by air are stated in the National Civil Aviation Policy 2012 & 2013. Below are some from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Bill of Rights based on Part 19 of the Civil Aviation Regulations 2012:
- The right to the full value for your money – Passengers shall receive at least: (i) 25% of the fares or passenger ticket price for all flights within Nigeria. (ii) 30% of the passenger ticket price for all international flights.
- The right to compensation – This is for flight cancellation, delays, damaged/loss baggage and denied boarding for reasons other than technical, weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, security risks and industrial disputes that affect the operation of the flight. The airlines have an obligation to provide the passengers with refreshments, access to free calls, emails or text messages, hotel accommodation or even reimbursements where the flights are delayed.
- The right to reimbursements – Reimbursements are subject to the length of the delay or whether the flight is international or local. If the compensation referred to was paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders/cheques or with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers or other services. Where compensation is made in a voucher, the voucher shall be redeemable at all sales outlets of the air carrier providing the voucher.
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- The right to re-routing – When passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight, the arrival time of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked. It can be by one hour, in respect of all domestic flights. Or by three hours, in respect of all international flights, the operating airline may reduce the compensation provided by 50%.
- The right to book and confirm tickets with an airline of your choice.
- The right to the provision of a conducive airport environment before, during, and after flights.
- The right to seek redress for all irregularities during your flight – Passengers who wish to lodge complaints about violations of the Passenger Bill of Rights may do so with the Directorate of Consumer Protection of the NCAA. The NCCA has mandated all airlines to establish consumer protection desks at airports where they can receive and resolve complaints from their customers. Of course, passengers have a right to approach the civil courts directly. The appropriate court is the Federal High Court. It is also the Passengers right to get timely feedback regarding matters/complaints lodged with service providers.
- The right to be fully informed about flight status – In the event of oversold flights, airlines are to request volunteers for denied boarding before applying boarding priority. The airlines entitle such passengers who agree to be offloaded to compensation and assistance with re-routing to their destination on an alternative flight.
- The right to be treated with respect and dignity irrespective of race or physical condition.
It is important that we all know the bill of rights. Knowing our minimum passenger rights and the obligation of carriers will cause us to demand higher standards from our aviation operators. We, the people, deserve quality service delivery for our money. Let’s get rid of the short end of the stick dealt with us over the years.
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority
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