Answer ... (a) Flight delays or cancellations?
In accordance with the Brazilian Aeronautical Code (Articles 229 to 231) and National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) regulations, passenger material rights are as follow:
- From one hour’s delay onwards: Airlines must provide communication to passengers (internet, phone calls).
- From two hours’ delay onwards: Airlines must provide food (eg, vouchers, snacks, drinks).
- From four hours’ delay onwards: Airlines must provide material assistance with accommodation or, if the passenger is in his or her home town, a transfer home and back again to the airport for the next available flight. The airline may also refund the ticket price, including fees, in which case it is not obliged to provide this material assistance described above.
If the flight is cancelled during any stopover, the airline may:
- reimburse the ticket costs, including fees, and return the passenger to the airport of origin, and provide the other material assistance described above;
- refund the amount paid for the next leg to the final destination, in which case it is not required to provide the material assistance described above;
- board passengers on the next available flight to the final destination, either of its own or of another operator, and provide the material assistance described above;
- arrange for the conclusion of the trip by another mode of transport (eg, bus, shuttle, taxi), and provide the material assistance initially described above; or
- reschedule the flight without any cost, in which case it is not obliged to provide the material assistance initially described above.
In the case of international flights, the limitations of the Montreal Convention apply.
Notwithstanding the above, the Brazilian courts are very protective of consumers and often award damages for pain and suffering to passengers on a case-by-case basis.
The same assistance as described in question 4.1(a) is applicable in case of overbooking. However, as soon as the airline verifies the possibility of overbooking, it must invite volunteers to agree to board another flight in exchange for compensation (eg, money, extra tickets, air miles). If no passengers accept this invitation, the airline must offer them the alternative of boarding other flights and reimbursement plus material assistance.
(c) Denied boarding for other reasons?
The same rules as set out in question 4.1(b) are applicable in case of denied boarding for other reasons (eg, operational safety, change of aircraft).
(d) Baggage delay, damage or loss?
In accordance with the Brazilian Aeronautical Code, the Montreal Convention and ANAC, the rules and procedures are as follows.
Baggage loss: The passenger must communicate with the airline, preferably at the counter for assistance in the disembarking area, with his or her baggage ticket in hand. Once the airline finds the baggage, it must send it on to the address which the passenger has given. The baggage may be temporarily lost for a maximum period of seven days for national flights or 21 days for international flights. If the baggage is considered totally lost, the airline must indemnify the passenger within seven days.
If the passenger is not in his or her home town, the airline must also provide compensation for emergency costs for the period for which the baggage is lost.
In accordance with ANAC rules, airlines are free to define the way in which compensation will be paid and the daily limits thereof. Article 260 of the Brazilian Aeronautical Code, applicable to domestic flights, states that the carrier’s liability for loss of or damage to baggage is limited to the equivalent amount of 150 national treasury obligations (a monetary reference of value).
Airlines usually follow the rules of the Brazilian Aeronautical Code or the Montreal Convention when offering compensation in extrajudicial and judicial procedures. However, in Brazil, there are legal discussions on the application of the Brazilian Aeronautical Code (for domestic flights), the Montreal Convention (for international flights) and the Consumer Code (Federal Law 8.078/90) which invites litigation, as more particularly described in question 4.5.
Damaged baggage: The passenger should notify the airline as soon as possible and in any event within seven days of receipt of the damaged baggage. The airline must repair the damage or replace the baggage with equivalent baggage if repair is impossible. Again, with regard to the amount of compensation, ANAC allows the airline to decide how best to proceed.
(e) Disabled access?
ANAC Resolution 280/2013 specifies the rights of passengers with special needs (PNAE) and passengers with reduced mobility, who should be accompanied if:
- they are travelling in a stretcher or incubator;
- as a consequence of mental or intellectual limitations, they cannot clearly understand flight safety instructions; or
- they cannot attend to their physiological needs without assistance.
The airline must provide a companion without additional cost or allow the PNAE to choose a companion, whose ticket will be charged at up to 20% of the price paid by the PNAE. Any special requests of the companion should be responded to within 48 hours. The companion must be at least 18 years of age, must satisfy the conditions to assist a PNAE and must fly in the same cabin. Assistance dogs are also allowed by ANAC.