Denied boarding is a distressing experience that occurs when an airline refuses to allow a passenger to board a flight, despite holding a valid ticket and having fulfilled all necessary requirements. This situation can disrupt travel plans, cause inconvenience, and lead to financial losses for the affected individuals.
In Nigeria, commercial airline passengers enjoy certain rights and protections under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations. One such protection is the right to compensation in the event of denied boarding or flight cancellation. This article will explore the remedies available to victims of denied flight boarding in Nigeria.
Simply put, Denied boarding, also known as “bumping,” occurs when a passenger who has a valid ticket for a flight is not allowed to board the plane, even though they have arrived at the boarding gate on time and met all the requirements for boarding. This may happen when the airline overbooks the flight and more passengers have shown up for the flight than there are available seats on the plane. In such situations, the airline may deny boarding to some passengers to avoid an oversold flight.
However, airlines are required to follow certain rules and regulations, and passengers who are denied boarding may be entitled to compensation or other remedies under the applicable laws and regulations.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Act
The Nigerian Civil Aviation is responsible for enforcing aviation standards and regulations in Nigeria and can investigate complaints and take action against airlines that violate passenger rights. Section 19 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act (NCAA) provides for the rights and remedies of a passenger who has been denied boarding. The Act defines “denied boarding” as a refusal by an airline to carry passengers who hold confirmed reservations and valid travel documentation, although they have presented themselves for check-in and/or boarding at the time stipulated by the airline, on grounds of oversold service.
Remedies available to victims of denied boarding.
Under the NCAA, a passenger who has been denied boarding is entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation depends on the distance of the flight.
Passengers who are victims of denied boarding are entitled to receive in lieu of the full refund at least:
(i) 25% of the fares or passenger ticket price for local flights within Nigeria.
(ii) 30% of the passenger ticket price for all international flights.
The compensation amount can help offset any expenses incurred as a result of the denied boarding, such as alternative travel arrangements or missed connections.
It is important to note that the payment of the compensation must be made in cash, via electronic bank transfer, bank orders, bank checks, or, with the passenger’s written consent, in travel vouchers or other services.
Passengers who have been denied boarding are entitled to re-routing to their final destination at the earliest opportunity. If the passenger agrees to take a re-routed flight, the airline is responsible for all expenses incurred by the passenger during the delay. These expenses include food, accommodation, and transportation.
It is important to note that when passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight, the operating airline may reduce the compensation provided above by 50% if the arrival time of the alternative flight does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked, by one hour in the case of domestic flights and three hours in the case of international flights.
When a Passenger decides not to take a re-routed flight, the airline must refund the ticket price.
Passengers are entitled to an immediate cash reimbursement for domestic flights and reimbursement within fourteen days for international flights of the full cost of the unutilized ticket at the price at which it was purchased, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight no longer serves any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, together with, when relevant, a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest possible time.
- Right to care
Passengers are entitled to complimentary refreshments, hotel accommodations, transportation between the airport and their lodging (hotel or other lodging), as well as two free calls, SMS messages, or emails.
- Legal Action:
Passengers who are unable to resolve their complaint with the airline or the NCAA may consider suing the airline for damages, including reimbursement for any expenditures spent as a result of the flight disruption.
How to Access Remedies
If a passenger has been denied boarding, it is advisable to inform the airline immediately. The airline should provide the passenger with a written statement that explains the reason for the denial of boarding. If the passenger is dissatisfied with the explanation, they have the option of filing a complaint with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The NCAA will investigate the complaint and take appropriate action.
In conclusion, Denied boarding can be a frustrating and disruptive experience for travelers, but it is crucial to bear in mind that remedies and protections are available to victims in Nigeria. Understanding passenger rights, reporting incidents, and seeking appropriate remedies are crucial steps toward obtaining compensation and ensuring accountability from airlines. By being aware of their rights and taking the necessary actions, passengers can protect themselves and seek redress when faced with denied boarding situations in Nigeria.
1Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations 2015: Part 19
2 See Denied Boarding | Air Passenger Rights (Accessed on June 14, 2023, at 2:34 pm)
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