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Passenger Bill of Rights needed, ALA argues

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has urged the government to completely overhaul the legal rights of air travellers, Janie Medbury writes.

THE legal alliance has highlighted an urgent need for travellers to be protected from a perplexing mix of laws in a 43-page submission to the Federal Government’s upcoming Aviation White Paper.

ALA’s Aviation Green Paper argues that the current laws only provide “limited and vague rights” for consumers in the face of flight delays and cancellations, and suggests the introduction of a Bill of Rights.

“Currently passengers’ rights are found in a complex web of legislation which is hard for consumers to understand and these sources only give passengers limited and vague rights and are difficult and costly for consumers to enforce,” ALA spokesperson Victoria Roy said.

“A new ‘Australian Passenger Bill of Rights’, including a flight delay compensation scheme, should be simple enough for individual consumers to navigate themselves without enlisting the help of a lawyer and include rules around timeframes for airlines to respond to complaints and compensation claims,” she added.

According to ALA, the Bill should safeguard against travellers being left short-changed when flights are altered or scrapped, with airlines required to provide compensation for any changes made, except for those outside of their control.

The alliance put forth a total of 14 recommendations to the government’s White Paper, including the establishment of an ombudsman to enforce and inform travellers about a Bill of Rights, as well as greater compensation powers for passengers who have been sexually assaulted during flights.

The ALA is also seeking airline liability changes to private, recreational and business flights. See the full submission here.

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