A holiday is supposed to be a fun and relaxing break from your everyday routine. Planning the holiday should be exciting. However, there are a lot of elements involved in ensuring a seamless journey.
Amid hunting for the best airfares, purchasing air tickets, booking accommodation and transportation, consumers often overlook a crucial thing – the Terms and Conditions set by airlines, sometimes referred to as the “Contract of Carriage”.
It is important for the consumer to understand the fine print before completing a transaction. By failing to do so, we could find ourselves spending more for the additional fees or charges imposed.
Before purchasing an air ticket, consumers should look under the Terms and Conditions, where it lists the conditions of, or restrictions on, your fare; refund or rebooking policies; baggage allowance policies; government-imposed taxes and fees; any additional charges, surcharges and “other” fees; and any other information necessary to apprise consumers of the conditions and the total price of the ticket purchased.
(“Other” fees include fees for administration, refund processing, cancellation, baggage, name change, etc.)
Aside from reading and understanding the Terms and Conditions, travellers need to be informed and aware of many other things.
When travelling, one may sometimes notice that the plane he/she will be flying on is a different airline (also known as the “operating airline”), which usually occurs under a “code-sharing agreement”.
Before purchasing the air ticket(s), travellers should be informed which airline will be operating the aircraft. If the operating airline changes after you have purchased the ticket, you should be updated immediately.
Next is to be informed of any change(s) in the flight status. Here is a scenario that some consumers may be able to relate to: A traveller makes his way to the airport, only to find out that the flight is delayed for over two hours. He checks his text messages, e-mails and caller list and, indeed, the airline did not reach out to him earlier to inform him of this delay.
A flight’s status can change due to many reasons, such as cancellations, delays and diversions. Due to that, an airline needs to inform its passengers about any changes as soon as they happen.
Airlines are required to take reasonable steps to reach out to passengers when there are flight changes. Passengers should exercise their rights if this is not done, and immediately contact the airline and ensure that they are provided with care which will include meals, telephone calls and Internet access (where available) for delays of more than two hours. For delays of five hours or more, travellers are entitled to the above as well as hotel accommodation and transportation to and from the hotel.
In addition to the above, travellers should be aware that airlines are not allowed to increase the price of a ticket after the consumer has paid for it. This post-purchase price increase is only allowed if there has been an increase in government-imposed taxes or fees.
If you feel that the airline is not transparent in breaking down the cost of your air ticket, has included hidden add-ons, or increased the air ticket fare post-purchase, you should lodge a complaint with the airline immediately. The Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) states that airlines are now required to resolve your complaint within 30 calendar days. If this complaint is not resolved within 30 days, or if you are unhappy with the resolution provided, do contact the Malaysian Aviation Commission.
This article was brought to you by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom).