The latest United Airlines fiasco has gotten social media into a frenzy with many netizens condemning United for the inhumane treatment and removal of a passenger.
While we sit and watch this story unfold, we can’t help but wonder: how many of us know our rights as a commercial air passenger?
A quick check around the office confirmed this. A few of us had some knowledge, but that knowledge came because we had experienced unfortunate travel-related incidences.
Thanks to the establishment of the Malaysian Aviation Commission on 1 March 2016, under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015, Malaysians now have a go-to for all matters concerning our rights as civil aviation consumers. MAVCOM is an independent entity to regulate economic and commercial matters related to civil aviation in Malaysia by promoting a commercially viable, consumer-oriented and resilient civil aviation industry which supports the nation’s economic growth.
Here are 3 air passenger rights you should be aware of:
#1. Flight delays or cancellations.
In the unlikely event of a delay or cancellation, your carrier will most likely need to provide you with meals, telephone calls / internet use if the delay is more than 2 hours. For delays for 5 hours or more, the airline should provide accommodation and transport (or when and if a stay becomes necessary). In the event of a cancellation, consumers will get a full refund or an alternative flight.
However, there are of course exceptions which they refer to as “extraordinary circumstances”, which include security/ safety risks or extreme weather.
#2. Lost, damaged or delayed baggage.
You are entitled to claim for compensation from your airline, and most will require you to file a written complaint which you must do on arrival or within 7 days of arrival if your bag is damaged, or on arrival or within 21 days of arrival if your baggage is delayed.
#3. Denied boarding.
An airline may deny you from boarding when the flight is overbooked, or when there are operational issues. Passengers will be asked to volunteer to give up their seat, and the airline must in return offer meals, phone calls, internet access, and accommodation and transport (if a stay is necessary). Airlines will also typically offer other perks such as cash incentive and travel vouchers.
MAVCOM has a comprehensive and informative website outlining your rights as an air passenger; covering issues before your flight, at the airport and after your flight.
That being said, anything can happen when you travel. It’s best to take it in stride, but do be a smart and informed traveler by reading on your rights as a consumer!