MAVCOM urges airlines to be reasonable when entertaining refund requests

TRAVEL restrictions imposed internationally and locally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to numerous flight cancellations.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) is concerned with the plight of affected consumers who have been inconvenienced due to the pandemic and the unprecedented circumstances it has created.

In balancing the rights of the affected consumers and the sustainability of the aviation industry, MAVCOM said it will continue to discharge its duties under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 [Act 771] and the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC) 2016.

In the event a flight has been cancelled due to Government restrictions, MAVCOM opined that airlines – as a matter of principle – ought to refund the affected consumers the amount equivalent to the cost of the ticket at the time of the purchase (including taxes, charges and fees prescribed under any written law).

“MAVCOM acknowledges that airlines have been accommodating the requests for refunds by the affected consumers,” the commission pointed out in a statement.

“We encourage all airlines to endeavour and to continue their best efforts in providing refunds to the affected consumers.”

The commission also urged airlines to exercise the principles of reasonableness and fairness in determining the manner of refund that is provided to the affected consumers.

Below are a few selected Q&A provided by MAVCOM for the benefit of affected air travellers:

Q1: The airline cancelled my flight. What are my options to recover my money?

A: A refund request varies by airline. Here’s the list of local airlines refund guide on COVID-19:

Malaysia Airlines: Flight adjustment, travel rebooking and refund options for passengers

AirAsia: COVID-19 Flight Changes Guide

Malindo Air: COVID-19 Travel Waiver Permitted

Firefly: Flight Operated by Firefly from Feb 19-March 4

Q2: As my flight was cancelled, the airline has only offered a travel voucher or a choice to reschedule my flight. I want a full refund to my original mode of payment. Is this possible?

A: The request for a refund in the original mode of payment will be reviewed on a case-to-case basis. This is a commercial decision by the airline, taking into consideration that the cancellation of the flight was beyond the airlines’ control.

Q3: My flight from Kuala Lumpur to Perth was cancelled due to COVID-19. I was provided with a credit shell/travel voucher by the airline. I want to utilise a portion of my credit shell/travel voucher. Will I be able to utilise the remaining balance on my credit shell/travel voucher at a later date?

A: Some airlines are allowing consumers to utilise their credit shell/travel voucher over multiple transactions. We encourage you to contact the airline to understand the terms and conditions of your credit shell/travel voucher.

Q4: My travel plans were during a period when the Malaysian Government had no restrictions on interstate travel. However, the airline cancelled my flight and offered me a credit shell/travel voucher. Can I request a full refund in my original mode of payment?

A: If your flight was cancelled when there were no restrictions on interstate travel, the airline is generally required to provide refunds of the full cost of the ticket, including taxes and fees or re-routing with comparable transport conditions. For more information, please refer here to the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) – Part III, Paragraph 12: Air Passenger’s Rights – Flight Delay and Cancellation.

Please contact the airline to process your refund. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you may contact us at https://flysmart.my/en/make-a-complaint/.

Q5: I have not received my refund for the ticket purchase made via my credit card and the bank does not seem to be aware about the refund. What do I do?

A: As per the MACPC (Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection), airlines have *30 days to revert to you regarding your refund. We encourage you to check the status of your refund with the airline.

If your refund is not resolved within *30 days, you may submit a complaint to MAVCOM at https://flysmart.my/en/make-a-complaint/. Please ensure that a copy of your bank statement and e-mail communication with the airline are submitted together with your complaint for MAVCOM to review and investigate your complaint further.

* Currently, given the unprecedented situation that the airlines have been experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MAVCOM has extended the current timeline of 30 days to 60 days for airlines to resolve complaints and remit refunds, from the date of receipt of the complaint and claim of refund. – Feb 22, 2021

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