Tuesday, May 3, 2016 6:42 pm
By Funsho Balogun
Most of the air travellers that ply domestic and international routes have at one time or another been disappointed by airlines which are usually never keen on compensation. And according to Sam Adurogboye, the spokesman of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA under which there is the Consumer Protection Directorate, passengers should expect no change in the attitude of airlines on this matter. He told TheNEWS: “The operators are in business to maximize profit and will not eagerly throw compensation at every aggrieved passenger,” says Adurogboye.
The NCAA spokesperson pointed out that while there are standing rules guiding treatment of passengers, with penalties dangling for errant airlines, passengers should also take their flight responsibilities seriously.
However, as Adurogboye noted, the average Nigerian passenger just doesn’t fall into the category of rights-savvy passengers. And airlines continue to leverage on their ignorance, shielding their pockets from paying compensation. “Most people don’t know their rights, if you press for it you will get it”, says Adurogboye. He added that if an airline is in default, passengers have the right to take their complaints to such airlines ‘s counter at the airport as a first step towards seeking compensation. “If you fly and you have an issue with your carrier, concerning baggage loss or other matters, lodge a report at their counter, and when dissatisfied, come to us. But most people don’t want to go through the rigour of coming to complain,” Adurogboye said.
Going through such rigour is usually the only means of getting proper redress. Adurogboye stated an instance when he had to claim his rights on a trip to Malaysia. He took an Emirate airlines flight to Singapore but couldn’t find his bag on landing which he checked in. After lodging a report at the airline’s counter, they promised to get back to him with his bag. It would been ended there, but rather than leaving, he claimed his right at the counter, demanding immediate compensation. ”
I told them I had to use my towel and needed a change of clothes which were all in bag. They gave me another form to fill, and I also got $100 from them to buy a towel and other things I needed immediately, ” Adurogboye said. According to him, since the airline realized he knew his rights, he could not be denied prompt compensation.
The regulation put in place by the NCAA for protection of passengers, drawn from part 19 of ” NCAA Regulations 2012, Volume. I l., covers No-show and overbooking of flights, cancelled scheduled flights, delayed scheduled flights and denied boarding against the will of a passenger.
According to the rules , any passenger denied boarding involuntarily should be entitled to a compensation by the airline of at least 25% of the fares or passenger ticket price for all flights within Nigeria, and 30% of the passenger ticket price for all international routes.
Concerning flight delays, which occur most frequently, passengers on domestic flights are entitled to refreshments, telephone calls, SMS or e-mail, after being kept waiting beyond an hour. And for 2 hours delay and beyond, carriers should reimburse passengers the full value of their tickets.
Airlines can cancel flights provided booked passengers are informed 24 hours before scheduled departure time for domestic flights and 7 days ahead for international flights. Upon defaults by airlines, passengers should also get 25% passenger ticket price for all domestic flights and 30 % passenger ticket price compensation for all international flights. Domestic flight passengers should get immediate cash reimbursement, while international flight passengers should be reimbursed within 14 days.
For domestic flights, carriers are expected to pay $1000 for damages sustained in case of destruction or loss of baggage. Airlines are expected to inform the passengers about their baggage liability limits to ensure prompt response to passenger”s claims.
Although the Consumer Protection Regulations, as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Authority, cover most of the complaints of passengers with various forms of compensation in tow, passengers who are dissatisfied are still free to approach the courts as a last resort to claim their rights. “We take these things up, but the Consumer Protection Directorate does not take the place a court, ICAO only set up the section to lessen the burden of going to court to seek redress, ” the NCAA spokesperson said, while advising passengers to know more about their rights through platforms available at the airports.