Why You Must Get to Know MAVCOM
It’s every traveller’s nightmare: You’re all set waiting at the boarding area only to find out your flight got cancelled at the very last minute, jeopardising your meticulously laid out travel plans. Or worse, you were stuck on the airport tarmac for more than an hour before takeoff or upon landing. You’ve heard it all before!
As a consumer, you have the right to claim cash compensation for the travel inconveniences caused by your airline. Entities such as the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) helps passengers exercise their rights. Back in October, MAVCOM’s second Consumer Report which covered March to August 2017 reported that they received 17 complaints out of every 1 million passengers, an increase of 92% compared to the previous six months.
Isn’t it time for you to get to know your passenger rights? Below we’re going to discuss MAVCOM and the rights you may not know you have and how to go about filing your claims.
MAVCOM to the rescue
The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) operates under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015, an independent entity designed to manage economic and commercial matters related to civil aviation and promote a more consumer-oriented aviation industry in Malaysia.
MAVCOM was formally established in March 2016 and has continued to provide a mechanism for the protection of consumers. The Commission ensures that all sectors within Malaysia’s civil aviation industry are operating efficiently, including ensuring that you receive a fair outcome should something go haywire during your travels.
The Commission also implemented Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 on the 18th of July 2016. The goal? To protect and educate consumers about their travel rights and benefits and at the same time ensure that airlines and airports are entirely responsible for the quality of service offered.
One of MAVCOM's tasks is to regulate Passenger Service Charges (PSC), previously known as the Airport Tax which is borne by departing passengers. Beginning January 2017, PSC were set at RM11 for local destinations, and RM35 for ASEAN destinations - effective for all Malaysian airports. International destinations outside of ASEAN would charge each passenger RM50 if you’re departing from KLIA2 and RM73 from other Malaysian gateways. Malaysia became the first ASEAN country to introduce such a tier.
Effective January 2018 however, MAVCOM would have completed the full equalisation of the PSC, thereby imposing a flat RM73 for all international destinations beyond ASEAN for all airports while leaving the remaining PSC untouched. This naturally led to an outcry from AirAsia who operates from KLIA2, where their passengers would now need to fork out more for the PSC.
All this while, the Commission has also been working on the development of the regulatory framework – Quality of Service (Airports QoS) to improve overall service levels including enhanced passenger comfort, improved facilities, and facilitate better airport experience for airlines, ground handlers and other users of airports in Malaysia.
While having a travel insurance provides coverage for your air travel and other unforeseen circumstances, MAVCOM has got your back in the case of mishandled baggage, flight delays and cancellations where the airline is responsible.
Passenger Rights: Get to Know Them Right Now
Don’t let your holiday stress you out. While there are travel nightmares that can happen anytime, GoBear has a helpful and detailed guide to your air travel rights.
You may notice that sometimes you’re flying on an airline different from the airline you bought the ticket from. This often happens because of code-sharing agreements where two or more airlines share the same flight.
In such circumstances, you have the right to be informed about which airline will be operating the plane you will be boarding before you buy a plane ticket. You must be notified as soon as possible if the operating airline decides to change after you’ve purchased a ticket. If this does not happen for your flight, inform the airline where you bought your ticket immediately.
Claims and Compensation: Damage to mobility equipment
Mobility equipment such as wheelchairs or walking aids must be loaded and stowed safely during the flight. Your airline is responsible for taking care of your equipment during your flight, thus obliged to compensate you based on the market value of your equipment in case your mobile equipment gets lost or damaged.
For instance, let’s say you’ve booked yourself a trip to Vietnam while suffering from mobility impairment which necessitates the use of a walking aid. Upon arrival at Vietnam, you discovered that your walking aid has missing parts and hence, no longer usable. Seeing that your airline is responsible for your mobile equipment, you are entitled to be compensated, while being provided with a temporary replacement until your compensation is fully processed.
Airline Charges: Automatic add-ons
Are you aware of the miscellaneous fees attached to your flight ticket? An airline cannot automatically add on additional services such as assigned seating, check-in baggage, or travel insurance to air fares without your knowledge.
Airlines must state the additional services which they offer and how much they cost during the booking process. When travellers make a booking, they will have the option to choose whether to have these services added based on the information provided. If your airline automatically added these services and you paid for them without your knowledge, then you need to contact MAVCOM immediately to address this.
For instance, you planned a multi-city trip to Europe. During your booking with the airline, the system automatically added insurance into your flight itinerary. Since carriers are not allowed to automatically include additional services (which have been effective since 31 August 2016), you are entitled to obtain a refund on the cost of the insurance.
You get on board, finally settled on your seat - only to find out that you are being bumped from your flight because the flight is overbooked or due to an operational issue.
Overbooking happens when an airline has sold more tickets than the number of seats available for a specific flight. This is a common practice among carriers to avoid wasting seats and revenue leakage.
When this happens, the airline will call on people who are willing to give up their seats. The airline will need to offer incentives in exchange for their seats. If there are not enough people volunteering to give up their seats, they will deny people from boarding the flight and provide compensation in accordance with the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC).
Airlines have the power to deny you from boarding if:
- you voluntarily give up your ticket
- there are insufficient volunteers to give up their tickets
The only time you will get denied from boarding – whether you like or not, is when no one else volunteered to give up their ticket.
In the event of being denied from boarding voluntarily or involuntarily, the airline must offer a compensation immediately. Depending on your situation, the compensation should include:
• meals, internet access, phone calls
• reasonable accommodation and transportation (if applicable);
• boarding compensation for either a full refund or a flight replacement of the same route at the earliest possible opportunity
Flight Delays and Cancellations
When it comes to flights getting cancelled or delayed, many consumers are not aware that airlines must provide compensation so you can still go along with your travel plans. Your compensation depends on the nature of the delay and cancellation:
• For delayed flights (2 hours or more): meals, internet access, phone calls
• For delayed trips (5 hours or more): hotel accommodation and transport (if a stay is necessary)
• For cancelled flights: a choice to get a full refund or flight replacement of the same route at the earliest possible opportunity. If you found an alternative flight – different from what was offered by the airline, the airline is not liable to pay for the alternative flight you found.
There are however, situations where a compensation is not offered due to “extraordinary circumstances”. These circumstances include security risks or extreme weather conditions which could take place without the knowledge of the airline.
Persons with Disability
Everyone – especially people with disabilities have the right to travel, and no one has the power to stop a person from booking a ticket or boarding a flight just because of his or her limitations.
The Malaysian law takes discrimination against air passengers with disabilities – whether mental, physical or both - very seriously. Discrimination happens when a person is mistreated because of his disabilities, and disability is not a reason for an airline to prevent a person from booking or boarding a flight unless:
• the mobility equipment of the person with a disability may cause harm to the safety of the flight or passengers.
• the size of the aircraft is physically impossible for the person with a disability to board the plane.
Airlines must provide an appropriate accommodation to people with disabilities. This means that they must accommodate air passengers with disabilities including assistance from the point of arrival at the airport until flight departure. Your airline is responsible for informing the airport and other airlines involved with your flight to ensure you get the assistance you need.
Airports must have accessible signage and points where individuals with a disability can ask for assistance. All airport staff must be knowledgeable about the needs of the person with disabilities.
Airlines receive special requests every day. So if you’re a person with disability, you must:
• Inform your airline about your disability at least 48 hours before your flight
• Arrive at the airport on-time according to the special requirements, as provided by your carrier
• Let your airline know if you need someone to assist you on your flight
No doubt, there are instances when a person with disability fails to inform the airline in advance of the needs required. In this case, the airline should still make an effort to provide assistance where possible.
MAVCOM is your formidable ally
Your rights are just as important as your travel plans and the travel insurance that you should equip yourself with. Should any of the unfortunate situations mentioned above happen to you, call the airline’s customer service line from the airport right away.
Provide as much information as you can – names of airport officials, dates, and flight numbers – while it’s still fresh on your mind. If the airline fails to find a resolution to your complaint within 30 days, you can get in touch with MAVCOM for the next step.
Remember - remain calm, remember your passenger rights and seek the compensation you deserve.