One natural response to delayed or cancelled flights in Nigeria is to go home and resume our normal activities, probably giving a few friends the gist about our experience at the airport. We basically tend to move on, shoving the experience in our box of things to tell our kids and grand-kids about our time. Though this shouldn’t be, it is definitely a norm amongst Nigerians. We are a people genetically wired to smile and push through any problem, whether there are laws that help with these problems or not.
Did you know you could actually claim monetary compensation from an airline for being unnecessarily delayed for above 3 hours or getting bumped off the plane unwillingly? Well, if you’re like the next person in the room, I’m guessing no. From recent research, statistics suggest that less than 0.02% air travelers in Nigeria are aware of flight delay compensation rights even though there are local and international laws in place the entitle air passengers to compensation when an airline is at fault for either denied boarding, delayed and cancelled flights. In other words, more than 99.98% of Nigerian air travelers aren’t even aware that they have rights as air passengers. What’s more surprising is that these flight delay compensations rights, profoundly referred to as Air Passenger Rights, have been in existence for quite a while and are still pretty much unknown.
These local and international laws vary depending on outgoing and incoming ports and airline carriers. They include:
- European Union Legislation 261/2004 (EC 261/2004)
- United States Aviation Laws
- Nigeria’s NCAR Part 19
- The Montreal Convention
If you say you don’t know about these rights because there are no companies actively pushing them forward, I definitely wouldn’t fault you. This space in the aviation sector has been left lacking for as long as these rights have been in existence until recent.
In Europe companies like Skycop, AirHelp and Refund Me offer this service. Within Africa, only one company takes this burden on its shoulders; Africlaim, a Nigerian claims management company founded in 2018. These claims management companies help air passengers make the most out of such bad experiences by handling the legal procedures and managing the claims process within a period of a little over a month. Using innovative, user-friendly digital platform, customers can check their eligibility to make claims and be educated alongside. The advent of COVD-19 ushered in initiatives such as the Africlaim COVID-19 Flight Disruption Help Initiative, The EU Commission Interpretative Guideline and Voucher and Refunds Initiatives by IATA have been launched to educate air passengers about their rights and offer necessary help needed due to the impact of the pandemic.
So the next time your flight gets delayed or you get bumped unwillingly, smile because someone’s actually got your back this time. And in case you’re wondering, the other response is to shout down the attendants, make a fuss, threaten to sue the airport and still do nothing.