Malaysiakini Letter

Airlines must improve their consumer services

Shabana Naseer  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Imagine you are at the airport to waiting to catch your flight. You have arrived early, checked in and cleared customs. However, to your dismay, the flight has been delayed.

You were not notified in a timely manner, if at all, and this has potentially disrupted your travel plans. In addition, there aren’t any explanations, satisfactory or otherwise, for the delay. Doesn’t it all sound familiar?

This is an example of the many complaints received by the National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC). Other complaints range from lost and mishandled baggage, hidden charges, poor customer services, and refunds. In 2015 alone, NCCC received 2,113 complaints.

One of the most upsetting complaints raised by many is their lost baggage. Many consumers have regarded this as a violation of their personal property. Those affected are within their legal rights to claim compensation from the airline if their checked-in luggage is delayed, lost or damaged.

However, the amount awarded is generally not sufficient compensation as compared to the loss that the consumers have suffered.

In addition, many consumers are not happy with the additional charges imposed by some airlines that are not made clear during the booking process. How clearly this information is presented and made available varies between airlines, and there is a growing number of consumers who have had to pay more than what was initially advertised by the airline.

Therefore, NCCC would like to advise our consumers to bring forth their complaints to the related airlines first. Subsequently, if the airline or aviation service provider has not resolved the complaint after 30 days from the initial complaint, they may submit a complaint to Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) or to the NCCC for further action.

The Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 protects air travellers and provides for the consumer’s rights when faced with flight-related issues.

For example, if the flight is delayed for more than two hours, consumers are entitled to meals, telephone and internet access (where applicable). If the flight delay is five hours and above, consumers are entitled to those same claims, plus hotel accommodation (including transport to and forth).

Mavcom, the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry, and other relevant agencies must play a bigger role in ensuring airline services are continually improving in a transparent manner and that the rights of the consumers are fully protected.

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