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Jennifer Nagu: What to do When Your Flight is Delayed or Canceled

You have the right to full compensation by the airlines, and if you are denied a re-booking, lodge an official complaint.

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Today, flight delays and cancellations are a regular occurrence, and knowing the right steps to take when it happens can save you time and money. According to statistics by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian airports recorded over 36,000 domestic flight delays in 2018 alone.

It is therefore important that you understand your travel and claim rights, know the respective airline customer service centers, and know the appropriate quarters to lodge your complaints in the event of a flight delay. Here are few other steps:

Know your travel rights
The NCAA Consumer Protection Regulation was formulated to protect the travel rights of the Nigerian traveler, so knowing these rights will give you the platform to challenge any airline when the need arises. Here are a few of these rights:

  1. The right to the full value for your money.
  2. The right to compensation for flight cancellation, delays, damaged/loss baggage and denied boarding for reasons other than technical, weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, security risks and industrial disputes that affect the operation of the flight.
  3. The right to book and confirm tickets with any airline of your choice.
  4. The right to seek redress for all irregularities during your flight.
  5. The right to timely feedback in respect of matters/complaints lodged with service providers.
  6. The right to be fully informed about flight status.

Wait it out
In most scenarios, you may likely have to wait out the delays because airlines may hold little control over circumstances causing these delays. You could take a walk around the airport, go grab a quick meal, or entertain yourself on your smartphones or computer.

Request a re-booking or overnight stay accommodation
In the event of a cancellation, you could request for a booking from the customer service agents of the airline at the airport. You have the right to full compensation by the airlines, and if you are denied a re-booking, lodge an official complaint. International carriers will likely provide accommodation if the flight was moved to the following day, so ensure you request for personal care kits to sustain you for the night.

Lodge an official complaint
The first step to lodging complaints appropriately, is to approach the specific airline authorities. This should be done formally, and should be documented. If after 21 days of formal complaint you have not received any favorable response, you should complain to the NCAA immediately. You can complain to the NCAA by obtaining a Consumer Protection Complaint form from any NCAA Consumer Protection Service desk, or the NCAA office at the airport terminal.

Taking it up on social media
Social media has become potent for organizations globally to conform, so I subscribe to the social media method of getting results, if it is done as politely as possible. Search out respective social media handles of airlines and publicly call them out. Also ensure this is done only as a last resort, when all other options have failed.

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