The Consumer Council received 764 complaints against budget airlines last year, more than double the 318 it received in 2013 and a huge jump from the 70 it received in 2012, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.
Price disputes gave rise to 298 complaints last year, triple the 92 received a year earlier, the consumer rights watchdog said.
A further 165 complaints arose from dissatisfaction with service quality, almost four times the 42 received in 2013.
The council did a survey of the 10 biggest budget airlines operating in Hong Kong.
It found that most of them charged for check-in baggage, seat selection, food and drinks and even blankets.
Most of the budget airlines offer only minimal compensation for flight delays, cancellations and damaged or missing baggage.
Some carriers said it is common in the industry to sell more tickets than there are seats on a flight, which is among the complaints the council received.
Industry players said the sharp increase in complaints is mainly due to the fact that more and more passengers choose budget airlines, but the carriers don’t have enough planes to be used as a backup in case of any delay.
Yiu Si-wing, a lawmaker for the tourism industry, suggested budget airlines improve their plans for backup and rules for compensation.
HK Express, a local budget airline, said it has launched a new platform that can shorten the period for the processing of refunds to between six and eight weeks.
The council made several suggestions for consumers to ensure a smoother journey.
First, pay attention to any items preselected online and the airline’s terms and conditions of carriage.
Second, one day before departure, check if there is any email from the airline regarding flight changes.
Third, on the day of departure, bring along the e-ticket/email confirmation and arrive at the check-in counter early.
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