This article highlights the obligations of airlines in Nigeria and the rights of its passengers. Air travel has become very popular in recent times due to the convenience and not having to sit for countless hours as in road travels. It is very necessary to know the duties owed to you by the Airline, if not for now, in the nearest future.
Common Complaints that air travel customers usually border on issues such as :
• Loss of Baggage in the care of the Airline , Delayed Baggage, Damaged baggage or Pilferage, etc.
• Flight Schedule: Flight Delay, flight Diversion, flight Cancellation, Poor in – flight services, Discrimination in flight etc.
• Denied boarding, Flight Booking, Down-Grading and Ticket Refund.
• Uncomfortable flight experiences or even Discourteous airline personnel/hostess etc. A few weeks ago, a man was refused to board an Airline because he used his left hand to hand over the boarding pass.
Air travel in Nigeria is regulated by the Civil Aviation Act And the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which has enacted the Rights and duties of Airline passengers for the protection of the rights of air travelers.
All airlines, both foreign and domestic, are subject to the provisions of the Regulations which prescribes the minimum rights and duties of passengers and the obligations of airlines.
The Rights of passengers Regulation shall apply on the occurrence of any of the following:
• No-show and Overbooking of flights
• Denied boarding against the will of a passenger (Involuntary)
• Delayed scheduled flights
• Cancelled scheduled flights
• Claims relating to delayed, damaged and lost baggage could be enforced under the Montreal Convention 1999 provision which has been domesticated in the Civil Aviation Act 2006.
The appropriate body to lay complaints with when you encounter issues with an Airline on matter stated above is the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) which is a division of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and was launched in March 2001, to ensure that all aviation consumers obtain the best services possible in air transportation.
The main mission of this body is to serve as the eagle eye of the industry by being responsible for informing, educating and protecting consumers as well as ensuring the provision of quality services in the aviation industry in Nigeria.
Please note that the CPD has a desk at some airports although only Lagos airport has been confirmed.
The following are Your Fly Rights :
• If your flight will be re-routed or delayed, you must be notified at least 2hours in advance.
• If you have a ticket or print-out that shows a confirmed reservation for a specific flight and date, an agent cannot deny you boarding because you have no reservation in the computer.
• If you need to cancel a ticket purchased under a non-refundable fare, you must be able to apply the fare you paid toward a future flight, minus any applicable charge or cancellation fees.
• You have a duty to arrive before the time on your ticket. Even if you have already checked in for your flight, an airline can cancel your reservation if you are not at the departure gate on time.
• You must be compensated if a flight departs before the ticketed time.
• If you do not check your baggage in sufficient time for it to be loaded on your flight, the airline will not be responsible for any delay in the delivery of your baggage to your destination
• If however, your baggage is delayed or lost, you must be compensated within 5 business days.
• If your flight is delayed for over 1hour, cancelled or you are denied boarding, you have a right to compensation.
• You have a duty to be courteous to staff and agents of airline operators.
• If airline staff or agents treat you discourteously, you must be compensated by the airline.
• You have a right to refreshments in-flight and when there is a delay of more than 1hour.
The airline must provide decent lodging and feeding for you if your flight is delayed overnight.
• As a passenger with mobility or other special needs, you have a right to priority treatment.
• You have a right to sanitary restrooms in-flight.
• You have a right to best price information; and flexible/refundable tickets at cost.
• All adults are required to present photo identification upon check-in and at boarding.
• If too many people show up for your flight, the airline must ask for volunteers to give up their seats for rewards from the airline (such as vouchers for future travel, a hotel stay or even cash.) The rewards must be negotiated on an individual basis with the airline.
• If you are involuntarily denied boarding, the airline must explain your rights in a written document, which must state how the airline decides who gets to stay on an oversold flight. You may keep your ticket and use it on another flight. If you choose to make alternative arrangements, you can request an “involuntary refund” for the ticket.
• You have a right to choose between quiet and entertainment in-flight.
Having all this in mind, there are also General Guidelines for Passengers that must be adhered to. The following
Things are not to be packed in checked-in baggage:
•Fragile objects (including Camera, laptops, cell phones, glassware, etc)
• Perishables such as fruits, vegetables.
• Negotiable Instruments
• Share Certificates\Medication
• Other valuables
Always ensure that you put valuables in your carry-on baggage to be able to take care of them properly or if you must check them in, ensure that you declare and tag them to the carrier.
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The following rules are also in place for the safety of the passengers :
• Don’t Resist Security Checks.
• Don’t Disrupt Services on board the flight, cooperate with crew..
• Don’t use cell phone, other communication gadgets during flight.
• Don’t be Aggressive or Abusive.
• Don’t Smoke at “No Smoking Area” or on-board Aircraft.
• Don’t get high on Alcohol before or during flight.
• Be a responsible passenger and encourage others to behave responsibly too.
All service providers in the industry have a responsibility as guided by NCAA to set up their own Customer Affairs Unit (CAU).
Customers who are not satisfied with their services are advised to direct their complaints FIRST to the appropriate service provider’s CAU before forwarding same to NCAA’s CONSUMER PROTECTION.
This is in place to ensure that the Airline is given an opportunity to right it’s wrong before taking it up with the NCAA.
To forward a complaint to the NCAA, the passenger may follow the following steps:
• Obtain a CONSUMER PROTECTION Complaint/Suggestion form from any Consumer Protection cubicle/service desk, Complaint/Suggestion box or NCAA office, or use the online WebForm; or fill a Non Punitive Report form.
• Complete the form or write a regular letter of complaint, stating precisely the complaint and the desired redress; or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The link to the online form may be gotten here http://www.ncaa.gov.ng/directorates/consumer-protection/complaint-form/
• State clearly the complainant’s full name, contact address and telephone numbers;
• Attach copies (never originals) of all relevant documents such as flight tickets, baggage tags, airway bills etc, depending on what the complaint is all about;
• Be prepared to supply all further information and/or attend meetings that may become necessary in the course of investigation;
• Address the complaint to the Director General of NCAA, attention the Director Consumer Protection
• Drop the complaint (Hard Copy) in any CONSUMER PROTECTION cubicle, complaint/ suggestion box or NCAA office or on-line at email@example.com.
The issue will be investigated and the complainant will be given feedback as the investigation goes on. Tripartite meetings will be held between all parties involved.
Please note that irrespective of the findings or involvement of CONSUMER PROTECTION in a complaint, the parties are free to seek further redress by legal or other appropriate means. It does not bar the passenger from filing an action in court.
If you need any personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us. If you have any feedback, let’s hear from you in the comments section below.
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