Aerocivil, Colombia’s civil aviation administration has implemented new rules designed to benefit air passengers in Colombia by increasing penalties on air carriers for deficiencies, streamlining the procedures for filing complaints and claims, monitoring and verification audits and also implementing a new “right to withdrawal.”
The new provisions encourage direct compensation to the passenger from the air carrier, in case of dissatisfaction, avoiding a lengthy administrative process.. The compensation process is to be closely monitored by Aerocivil for timely processing and resolution of passenger complaints.
- Penalties for service failures increase and the procedures for filing complaints and claims are streamlined
- The right to cancel ticket purchases is established
- Emphasis is made on earlier solutions and passenger compensation
- These requirements are set out in Resolution 1209 of May 25, 2015
The measures also seek to increase the amounts established by sanctions by up to 50%. For example, in the case of flight delays, it reduces the waiting time from two hours to 75 minutes, and the penalty is increased from 15 SMMLV (This is a multiple of the current Colombian minimum monthly salary, currently at $644,000, or roughly $275 US dollars—so 15 SMMLV is roughly $4125 USD) to 23 SMMLV. The longer the delay, the bigger the penalty becomes.
Other sanctions that were increased include those for the bumping and rebooking of passengers because of canceled flights, baggage handling failures, and not keeping airport data and information systems (such as the databases that update the arrival and departure screens) current and updated at all times.
|Travel agency service failures||10||15|
|Airline service failures||10||15|
|Significantly delayed flight||15||23|
|Not accommodating a passenger for 3 hours after a flight is delayed||20||30|
|Baggage delivery within 24 hours||10||15|
|Not displaying flight information on the FIDS screen||10||15|
|Overbooking (per passenger)||10||15|
|Overbooking over 5% in high season||10||15|
|Passenger mutiny, taking over flights (sanctions against passengers)||5||15|
|Passengers breaching the cabin (sanctions against passengers)||10||20|
|Going into restricted areas without identification and authorization||12||18|
|Possession of a falsified identification document||12||18|
*CLMMS: Current Legal Minimum Monthly Salary
Right to withdrawal
One new provision that did not previously exist is the right to withdrawal, and this rule has implications for both travel agencies and airlines. The right to withdrawal allows passengers to cancel airline tickets within 48 hours of purchase. In this case, airlines may retain up to 5% of the value of the ticket, or in the case of promotional fares, up to 15%.
In case of withdrawal, Aerocivil ordered that the passenger can cancel the trip up to eight calendar days before domestic flights and up to fifteen calendar days before international flights. In this case, airlines can retain up to 15% of the value of the ticket and, when it comes to promotional fares, the maximum amount that the airline can retain goes up to one third of the value of the ticket.
The airlines must return the money to the buyer within five working days, or for Internet sales, the repayment period is fifteen calendar days.
|Type of rate||<48 hours||8/15 days|
|Promotional fare||15%||1/3 of the ticket|
These measures aim to encourage airlines to provide all the information on their promotions and fares in a clear, accurate, complete and timely manner, and for them to comply to the letter with everything they offer. Furthermore, fares must be registered in advance with Aerocivil to be valid and enforceable.
The new rules also sanction angry passengers who take matters into their own hands, as has happened recently. The new measures establish that those who mutiny and take over an aircraft will have a drastic sanction of 18 SMMLV and for those forcibly entering the crew’s cabins the penalty is 20 SMMLV.
The process of investigating complaints and claims has also been overhauled. Previous to the changes, any administrative process related to an air transportation infraction or failure took up to 15 months. Now issues must be resolved within a maximum of eight months, which means a reduction of almost 50% and ensures timely due process.
|Reception of complaint||3 Months||2 Months|
|Investigation||4 Months||2 Months|
|Ruling and notification||4 Months||2 Months|
|Resource and notification||4 Months||2 Months|
|Complete process time||15 Months||8 Months|
Monitoring and verification audits
For the first time, Aerocivil establishes verification audits that will track the airlines’ ability to deliver adequate and timely service for travelers. In addition, surveillance and inspection of passenger service areas such as ticket counters, baggage claim, information stands, and other areas are increased in order to establish new procedures and best practices in order to improve the service provided by different airlines.
With El Dorado International Airport being the one with the largest in passenger traffic (24 million annually), it will be used as the pilot location for implementing these new measures and making any necessary adjustments.
Some of the new measures include:
- Strict control and monitoring of compensations.
- More people of the Aerocivil working in inspection and surveillance in airports.
- More customer service offices and more training.
- New group specialized in monitoring and auditing at airports (random audits).
- Better processes and follow-up testing and verification.
- Surveillance, especially at the counters, in the baggage claim and the information provided to passengers.
- More channels of information and follow ups through the Aerocivil website, the Colombia Airports app, social networks (Facebook, Twitter), and passenger guides.
These new provisions and measures aim to increase compensation to passengers, ensure faster completion of checkin and baggage claim processes, a reduction in claims, a growth in revenue from penalties, and a reduction of pending processes in a quickly and timely manner.