Consumer / Flight Disruptions – COVID-19 FAQs
Flight Disruptions – COVID-19 FAQs
Travel restrictions imposed internationally and locally, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, have led to flight cancellations in Malaysia. Since 18 March 2020, the Malaysian Government has imposed travel restrictions for domestic and international travel.
The Malaysian Government had lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions and reopened nearly all economic activities and allowing domestic travel for certain states. However, international borders will remain closed. Due to the ongoing pandemic, airlines have received an inordinately high volume of passenger refund requests. As part of the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) continuous efforts to protect consumers during these challenging times, MAVCOM has prepared some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding COVID-19, which consumers may refer for information on refund requests during this period.
MAVCOM encourages all domestic and foreign airlines to exercise the principle of reasonableness and fairness in determining the manner of refund that is provided to the consumers.
| We encourage consumers to first submit your complaint to the airline. If your complaint is not resolved within 30 days or you are not satisfied with the resolution, you may submit a complaint to MAVCOM below.|
If the frequently asked questions below did not address your concerns, or should you require further information, you may submit an enquiry or a complaint to MAVCOM at FlySmart- make a complaint page. Alternatively, you can also lodge a complaint with the FlySmart mobile application which can be downloaded through Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
1. Flight cancellations
A. If the airline cancels your flight
Q1. The airline cancelled my flight. What are my options to recover my money?
The refund policy varies by airline. Below are links to the refund guides of Malaysian carriers:
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?
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. In 2020, I accepted a credit shell/travel voucher for my flight cancellation due to COVID-19. However, I have decided not to travel due to the ongoing pandemic. Can I convert my credit shell/travel voucher to a cash refund?
This will be subjected to the terms and conditions of the airline refund policy. Some airlines have extended the validity of the credit shell/travel voucher up to 12 to 24 months. In addition, some airlines are waiving a change fee for future travel plans. You may contact the airline to understand the various options that are available.
Q4. I accepted a credit shell/travel voucher for my flight cancellation due to COVID-19. However, the validity is only until 30 June 2021, but I have decided not to travel for now. Can I extend the validity of my credit shell/travel voucher?
Some airlines have extended the validity of the credit shell/travel voucher up to 12 to 24 months. They are also exercising an earlier credit shell/travel voucher redemption period for a later travel date. Please contact the airline to understand the validity of your credit shell/travel voucher.
Q5. 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?
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.
Q6. After my flight was cancelled, I was offered a credit shell/travel voucher despite repeatedly requesting for a cash refund due to financial constraint. Can I transfer to another individual to convert my credit shell/travel voucher to a cash refund?
Some airlines are offering consumers the flexibility to transfer the travel voucher to another individual. Do contact the airline to understand the flexibility that is currently being offered to consumers.
Q7. I purchased my flight ticket to Japan in December 2019 for travel in March 2020. However, the airline cancelled my flight due to COVID-19 and I was informed that I can opt for a cash refund, credit account or move the flight to a later date with no additional cost. I opted for a cash refund, but the airline has re-offered me a credit shell/travel voucher. How do I request a cash refund?
If the airline has committed to offering consumers a cash refund, the airline is ought to honour it. You may contact the airline to request a cash refund as per their original offer. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you may contact MAVCOM at https://flysmart.my/en/make-a-complaint/.
Q8. 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?
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 rerouting 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 MAVCOM at https://flysmart.my/en/make-a-complaint/.
Q9. I did not get to revert to the airline with my preferred refund option within the stipulated deadline and the airline is not responding to me. What are my options now? Can I still get a refund?
As per the MACPC, airlines have *30 days to revert to you regarding your refund request. If you do not receive a response within *30 days, you may submit a complaint to MAVCOM here: https://flysmart.my/en/make-a-complaint/.
Q10. I purchased a ticket to Hong Kong with a value of RM2000. I now want to convert the value of the ticket to travel within Malaysia. Is this possible?
Most airlines are providing consumers the flexibility to convert the value of the ticket from international to domestic flights. Please note that the manner of refund as well as the terms and conditions vary between airlines. We encourage you to contact the airline to understand your available options.
B. If I decide to cancel my flight
Q1. I have decided not to travel now due to COVID-19. Can I get a refund?
For any voluntary cancellations, the refund value would depend on the terms and conditions of the ticket.
Q2. What if I want to travel but postpone my flight to a later date? Do I have to pay for a fare difference?
Generally, most of the local airlines in Malaysia allow consumers to change their travel dates for the first time without additional charges. This is subject to the airline seat availability and fare difference may apply if the fare of your new travel date is higher than the fare that you have paid for your original travel date.
Q3. I purchased my air ticket via a travel agent/online travel agent. Can I get a refund?
You are advised to contact your travel agent/online travel agent to understand your refund options. If your complaint is not resolved or you are not satisfied with the resolution, you may submit your complaint to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), the governing body for travel agents/online travel agents.
Q4. What are my options if I do not intend to travel in the future with the credit shell or travel voucher offered, will the airline refund my taxes and other ancillary charges that I have paid?
If you do not intend to utilise the credit shell/travel voucher offered by the airline, you are entitled to request for a refund of the Passenger Service Charges (PSC), taxes, fees and charges prescribed by any written law. You are encouraged to contact the airline to obtain the refund.
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?
As per the MACPC, 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 email communication with the airline are submitted together with your complaint for MAVCOM to review and investigate your complaint further.
2. Expenses incurred for my hotel and ground transportation
Q1. My flight has been changed and I have already paid for accommodation and activities. How will the airline compensate me?
Your travelling date can impact your plans at the destination that you are travelling to. However, please note that the airlines are not liable for consequential losses. You may contact your insurance provider to make a claim.
3. Other travel updates
Q1. What are the latest/current travel restrictions?
The most up to date information on travel restrictions can be found at Travel Restriction updates by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). More information is also available on the Malaysia Ministry of Health website as well as the Malaysia Ministry of Home Affairs websites.
Q2. How do I protect myself while travelling?
We have prepared some tips for you to stay safe if you are required to travel during this outbreak. See our How can you protect yourself during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak when you travel article. Information is also available on the Malaysia Ministry of Health website.
Q3. I was not allowed to proceed with my flight as the local immigration authority had denied my entry. Can I request for a refund?
You may submit a refund request to the airline. However, the refund value would depend on the terms and conditions of your air ticket.
Please note that if your air ticket does not have a refund value; you are still entitled to claim for the unused Passenger Service Charge (PSC) and government taxes from the airline.
*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.