When it’s been a hard day’s flight


  • Focus
  • Sunday, 08 Dec 2019

ANNUALLY, Malaysia sees about 100 million domestic and international aviation passengers. Of that, a whopping 10 million are expected to travel in just this month, the busiest month of the year for airports.

With such a huge number of people flying in the midst of major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day, it wouldn’t be a surprise if difficulties arose, such as flight delays and cancellations or lost luggage.

This is where the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) steps in to help by protecting passengers’ rights.

According to Mavcom chief operating officer Azmir Zain, if you travel by air in Malaysia, your rights are clearly defined and protected under the law by the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC). These rights cover dealings with airlines, airports and other aviation service providers, including foreign airlines that operate flights from Malaysia.

For instance, in the event of a flight delay of two hours or more, the airline is obligated to provide food and beverage to affected passengers – “Typically, what they would do is provide coupons to be used in the airport,” he explains during an interview in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

“If there is a delay of five hours or more, the air traveller would be entitled to accommodation provided by the airline and also transportation to the place of accommodation,” he elaborates.

Protection: The MACPC consumer code empowers the consumer to ensure his/her rights are exercised, says Azmir. —LOW BOON TAT/The StarProtection: The MACPC consumer code empowers the consumer to ensure his/her rights are exercised, says Azmir. —LOW BOON TAT/The Star

The MACPC also provides compensation in favour of the air traveller in the event of mishandled baggage, such as damaged, delayed or lost luggage, even if travel insurance was not purchased. By virtue of the MACPC, airlines and airports are legally obligated to provide such compensation to passengers.

Other passenger rights protected by the MACPC include compelling airlines to provide full disclosure of the final cost of airfares, meaning that airlines are not allowed to have hidden charges such as debit or credit card processing fees. Additionally, passengers are provided with remittance of refunds within 30 days for refundable tickets.

Also, free wheelchair service is provided for anyone with an OKU (disabled person) card; for such services, the airline must be informed at least 48 hours before take-off.

“The existence of this consumer protection code not only empowers the consumer to ensure their rights are exercised but it also empowers the consumer to influence standards in the industry,” Azmir says.

Azmir explains that consumers primarily pay for two things when purchasing a flight ticket: the airfare, which goes to the airline, and the passenger service charge (PSC, previously known as airport tax), which goes to the airport.

“If someone were to claim a refund, that passenger is entitled to a refund of the PSC even if the airfare itself may be non-refundable under the ticket’s terms and conditions,” he says. However, this excludes a processing fee of up to 5%.

The PSC for domestic flights is RM11; for Asean destinations, it is RM35; and for international flights beyond Asean, the PSC is RM73.

If an airline cancels a flight, passengers can choose to be put on an alternate flight or get a full refund even if they originally purchased non-refundable tickets

“One of Mavcom’s key roles is to help manage consumer complaints. Since we were established close to four years ago, we have handled 5,600 consumer complaints to date and we have been able to resolve over 99% of them,” Amir says.

The complaints included refunds, mishandled luggage, flight delays and problems with online bookings.

Mavcom was established in 2016 as an independent entity to regulate economic and commercial matters related to civil aviation in Malaysia.

Additionally, the Airports Quality of Service framework, currently implemented at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, sets performance targets that the airports have to achieve. These targets relate to the overall cleanliness of the airport terminal buildings, the strength of the airports’ wifi signal, clear signboards, and well-functioning facilities such as walkalators and lifts.

Should passengers encounter difficulties in these areas, Mavcom is now an easier route to recourse.

First, however, Mavcom advises passengers to contact the airline or airports concerned to lodge a complaint. If the complaint is not resolved or if customers are not satisfied with the resolution provided within 30 days, a further complaint can be submitted to Mavcom at its websites mavcom.my or flysmart.my, or via the Flysmart app. There is also the Mavcom consumer hotline, 1-800-18 6966 (within Malaysia) or +60-3-7651 2777 (outside Malaysia).

While Mavcom encourages passengers to first approach the airline or airport with their complaints, passengers also have the option to immediately lodge a complaint directly with Mavcom or through Flysmart.

“Our target is to resolve complaints within 30 days, but typically, we would resolve them earlier than that,” says Azmir.

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