Increase in foreign airline complaints

FOREIGN airlines are at the center of a growing number of passenger complaints, the local consumer rights watchdog said yesterday.

The city industry and commerce administration based at Shanghai's airports said it had received more than 70 complaints this year up to October against foreign airlines.

This is an increase of more than 120 percent on the same period last year. Around 40 foreign airlines provide services in Shanghai.

"A lack of effective communication and airlines being unfamiliar with Chinese traditions and habits are the main reasons for complaints," Wang Guangdi, the director with the consumer rights protection committee office at the airports, said at a meeting yesterday attended by more than 30 foreign airlines.

He said travelers complained that it was often impossible to get through on some airline hotlines.

Language barriers were also an issue, said Wang.

"Most companies require complaints in English," said Wang. "That's inconvenient for non-English speakers."

One passenger, surnamed Zhao, told how he arrived in Rome in July to discover his luggage was missing.

It took two months before Air France-KLM reunited Zhao with his bag. He later received around 3,500 yuan (US$549) in compensation.

Foreign airlines present said they plan to launch direct communication channels in Chinese and English.

But they expressed concerns about passenger behavior.

"I wonder if it's acceptable for passengers to occupy aircraft asking for compensation immediately after delays," said a regional manager with SriLankan Airlines.


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