KCAA steps up drive to sensitise travelers on consumer rights

Consumers of aviation services who experience inconvenience in their travel such as considerable delays, overbookings, flight cancellations or lost luggage can lodge their complaints with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the industry regulator, in circumstances where they fail to solve their concerns with airlines, the airport administrators or any other aviation service provider.

KCAA Director General Capt. Gilbert Kibe said that in its regulatory role, especially in an increasingly liberalized aviation environment, the Authority is mandated to protect consumers against any discrimination on grounds of nationality, race, sex, age, colour, creed, physical ability, and physical stature, as well as ensuring consumers receive services that provide value for the money expended.

“In the unfortunate event that passengers suffer considerable delays, overbookings, luggage loss or flight cancellations, we want the consumers to rest assured that we have in place a system for redress that ensures compliance with the laid down code of practice, ensuring that the quality and value of services provided meet consumer expectations,” Said Capt. Kibe.

According to the aviation regulator, airlines and the ground handling agents are obliged to inform passengers of any planned cancellations or long term delays anticipated at least 12 hours before the scheduled flight, supply a means of communication for emergencies and provide alternative solutions or compensation in case of denied boarding, flight cancellation, delayed flight and lost, damaged or delayed baggage.

“We, therefore, intend to ensure consumers are fully aware of their rights from the point of the ticket purchase in order to ensure that all aviation consumers are accorded the best services and value from the service providers within the aviation industry,” he added.

Travellers also have a right to request for documents on insurance, compensation, assistance and complaints procedures, as well as the right to appropriate alternative means of communication in case, they are illiterate, visually impaired or physically challenged in any way.

Furthermore, the aviation consumer protection rules demand that airlines provide information on consumers’ legal and contractual rights, the identity of the carrier to be used and assurance of good customer service from codeshare partners. The airlines must also disclose changes in aircraft en-route and how missed connections will be handled.

All service providers are required to ensure that persons with disabilities can access complaint handling processes and are provided reasonable assistance while taking measures to address their needs.  On price transparency, consumers should be provided full ticket price including all taxes, fees and charges as well as disclosure of baggage fees and baggage allowance.