Millions of people opt for air travel. What is surprising is that the majority of Malaysian air travellers are confused about their rights as travellers!
This was revealed by a survey done by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), which showed that 93% of consumers are interested to know more about their rights as air travellers. However, over the years, there has not been proper awareness, education, or enforcement of passenger rights for air travel. Consumers rely mainly on the Internet as their primary source of awareness about their rights.
In July 2016, Mavcom introduced the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) that clearly defines commercial aviation consumer rights under national law. It provides consumers with a protection mechanism to ensure that their interest are safeguarded.
Various rights are covered within this Code, such as matters relating to flight delays and cancellations, disclosure of pricing of air tickets, lost baggage, claims and compensation, persons with disability, and numerous other issues that they might encounter while travelling by air.
Although the MACPC has been introduced, consumers still need to play a key role in ensuring that their rights are upheld, by being vigilant at every point of the journey, starting from the time of ticket purchase.
As consumers, it is natural to look for deals and promotions, especially those concerning travel. However, one should be more careful in ascertaining whether the price advertised includes all unavoidable charges, such as airport taxes, admin fee, fuel surcharge, etc. One more thing to determine is if the deal or promotion advertised is for a one-way or return trip.
According to the MACPC, at the point of ticket purchase or prior to submitting a payment for the ticket booking, airlines should display all charges separately, including any applicable charges and taxes, so that consumers know exactly what they are paying for.
Consumers should take note that deals promoted by airlines are often only for a specific travel period. This is important as one might lose out on the air ticket purchased if travel plans do not fall within the stipulated travel period set by the airlines.
It is also important to take note of other details, such as the flexibility of flight change; whether there are charges incurred, in case of changes to the travel date/time; or whether the ticket is refundable. These are all crucial to ensure that travel plans are not disrupted.
Opt-In And Opt-Out Services
Knowing that airline deals can sometimes be tempting, and lower fares can be a catch, one should also be aware that one can opt in or opt out for optional services, such as travel insurance. These services should not automatically be added on to your airfare; the decision to opt in should be left to the consumer.
Nevertheless, purchasing travel insurance is important, as it will not only provide coverage for your air travel but also for your entire holiday period. It may also cover other unforeseen circumstances, such as medical incidents when one is abroad.
However, in the case of mishandled luggage or flight delays and cancellations, the airline is still responsible to give you the best experience and a hassle-free journey. You should still receive the necessary compensation regardless of whether you had purchased travel insurance.
Mavcom has also set up a Consumer Management System (CMS) for consumers who are dissatisfied with how a complaint is resolved by their airline or airport. Consumers may forward the complaint to Mavcom on the website at www.mavcom.my. Consumers can also find out more about their rights as an air traveller and view the details of the MACPC on the Commission’s website.