ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

3 things about airline industry practice every flyer should know

Delays, baggage theft and being bumped off a flight are all common consumer gripes when looking at the airline industry.

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says not many passengers know what their consumer rights are when it comes to air travel.

ON OVERBOOKING

Overbooking is an international practice, says Knowler. But what does the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) say?

Read: Consumer Protection Act protects consumers for flights and hotel overbooking

The CPA’s section 47 says if a company can’t deliver on a prepaid service at the agreed time, the supplier must refund the amount paid, with interest, and “in addition compensate the consumer for costs directly incidental to the supplier’s breach of the contract”.

Airlines worldwide deliberately overbook their flights to compensate for the inevitable “no-shows”, in the hope that the “extras” will all find seats, the plane will take off as full as possible and everyone will be happy.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

The airlines often get their sums wrong from, and that’s when people who’ve pre-booked and prepaid for a seat on a particular flight get bumped off.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

ON BEING DOWNGRADED FROM BUSINESS TO ECONOMY

Knowler says passengers who are “bumped out of” a more expensive class because of overbooking should be reimbursed with fare price difference, but this isn't always the case.

Last month Peter Berg-Munch flew on Ethiopian Airlines. He’d booked business class return tickets from Joburg to Copenhagen via Addis Ababa.

But on the leg home - Addis to Jhb - he was unceremoniously downgraded to economy class - a fare difference of some R13 000.

When he arrived at the front of a long queue hew was told that his flight was overbooked and there were no more Business Class seats left.

His wife, travel writer Caroline Hurry, tweeted a photo of the awful-looking polony roll which he was served in economy class and shared how the airline failed to respond.

When Knowler reached out to the airline, a refund was hastily done for only R4650. Management said it was the only amount Berg-Munch was entitled to.

ON RETURN FLIGHTS

Many airlines say it’s global practice in the aviation business model to cancel the return flights of passengers who had not checked in for their first leg of travel.

Also read: Consumer Commission to probe cancellation policy at Mango Airlines

Knowler says if consumers miss a flight, and have a return one booked with the same airline, they must call the airline and confirm that return flight.

Listen to the ConsumerTalk feature for the full discussion on airline woes:

Every Wednesday, on The Pippa Hudson Show, Wendy Knowler provides useful insights and tips on how to make the most of your buying power.

For more stories visit the ConsumerTalk feature page.

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
 Nissan 'Hardbody' and other SA carmakers accused of cutting corners on safety

Nissan 'Hardbody' and other SA carmakers accused of cutting corners on safety

South Africans are buying cars that wouldn't be allowed to be sold in other markets because of poor safety features.

Here's what makes a loyalty rewards programme a must-have for consumers

Here's what makes a loyalty rewards programme a must-have for consumers

The Clicks ClubCard is the most used loyalty programme in SA. The CEO loyalty consultancy firm Truth shares the latest insights.

Waiters urged to push back against common (but illegal) restaurant practices

Waiters urged to push back against common (but illegal) restaurant practices

Uniform fees, extra deductions and other dodgy restaurant tactics used to pass along some of their operating costs to their staff.

ADT to pay up R29k for items stolen when guards were on duty after CT house fire

ADT to pay up R29k for items stolen when guards were on duty after CT house fire

Personal belongings were stolen from this Newlands home overnight in May while Fidelity ADT officials were apparently on guard.

Woolies pilots smart recycling machines at two CT stores

Woolies pilots smart recycling machines at two CT stores

Retailer Woolworths introduced a new recycling machine at its Palmyra Junction store last month. Its V&A Waterfront store is next.

When it comes to 'double debits', rely on the card machine not the bank SMS

When it comes to 'double debits', rely on the card machine not the bank SMS

Bank SMS notifications can be misleading when used as proof of transactions, says consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

Popular articles
[LISTEN] DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach withdraws her candidacy for NDPP post

[LISTEN] DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach withdraws her candidacy for NDPP post

Breytenbach was one of 12 candidates shortlisted for the position.

'I felt racially profiled at Wellness Warehouse'

'I felt racially profiled at Wellness Warehouse'

Efua Prah shares how she felt she was racially profiled while shopping, a problem she says exists in many Cape Town outlets.

Amnesty International strips Myanmar leader of top honour once awarded to Madiba

Amnesty International strips Myanmar leader of top honour once awarded to Madiba

The global human rights organisation revoked the Ambassador of Conscience Award it gave Aung San Suu Kyi in 2009.

Water restrictions see 17 municipal pools across CT open from December

Water restrictions see 17 municipal pools across CT open from December

The City of Cape Town's JP Smith says four of the existing municipal pools will be converted into salt water pools.

Ever wondered why university vice-chancellors earn millions. Here's why

Ever wondered why university vice-chancellors earn millions. Here's why

CEO of Universities SA, Professor Ahmed Bawa explains why university vice-chancellors earn a lot of money while students struggle.