The Nigerian aviation sector has enormous potential to propel the country’s economic growth. The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) released a report in June 2020 that details the considerable impact that air travel makes to the national economy, including the creation of 241,000 job employment and a contribution of $1.7 billion.[1]

By generating jobs, attracting foreign investment, and fostering the growth of other industries, the industry has made a significant contribution to the economy’s development. In spite of its higher cost, flying remains Nigeria’s preferred method of transportation since it is the safest, fastest, and most dependable. This explains why the business has increased the amount of money flowing into the country’s coffers. This remarkable achievement, however, is being undermined by recent trends in aviation mishaps, aircraft delays, baggage loss, cargo loss, and other difficulties that travelers currently encounter. This article borders on the rights of passengers, and the responsibility of airline operators in accordance with international treaties and Nigerian legislation.

Rights of Airline Passengers under Nigerian Law

The principal legislation governing the rights of airline passengers in Nigeria is the Civil Aviation Act 2022[2] complimented by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation 2015[3] with the principal governing body being the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.[4] Nigeria is also a signatory to the Montreal Convention, a major international air treaty governing air carriers’ liability for damages caused to its passengers, including death, as it is incorporated into section 55(2)of the Civil Aviation Act, 2022. Therefore, any person who suffers discomfort or injury arising from the action or inaction of an air carrier is entitled to seek damages.

Part 19 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation, Consumer Protection Regulationfurther provides for certain rights and responsibilities of passengers and airlines’ obligations to passengers. These rights can be broadly categorized into right to reimbursement and rerouting, right to accommodation and care, and financial compensation to air passengers. These rights cover instances where there is an incidence of Overbooking and passengers are denied boarding against their will, where a passenger’s scheduled flight is delayed and where a scheduled flight is cancelled.


The following rights which airline passengers are entitled to by virtue of the Civil Aviation Act and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations will now be discussed:


  1. Rights to compensation in any case of aircraft accidents.

Section 55(1)and (2) of the Civil Aviation Act provides that the Montreal Convention signed on the 28th day of May 1999 which provides unification of certain rules relating to international carriage by air shall have the force of law and apply to international and non-international carriage by air within Nigeria, irrespective of the nationality of the aircraft performing the carriage, and shall subject to the provisions of the Civil Aviation Act 2022 govern the rights and liability of carriers, passengers, consignors, consignees and other persons within the contemplation of the modified Convention.

The implication as provided in section 55(3) isthatIn any case of aircraft accident resulting in death or injury of passengers, the airline operator or carrier shall make advance payments of Naira equivalent of at least 30,000 United States Dollars within 30 days from the date of such accident, to the natural person or such natural persons who are entitled to claim compensation in order to meet the immediate economic needs of such persons and such advance payments shall not constitute recognition of liability and may be offset against any amount subsequently paid as damages by the carrier.


  1. Right to be compensated for flight delays and cancellations:

Pursuant to Part 19 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation 2015, a passenger is entitled to compensation for any delay or cancellation of flight made. This right to compensation is dependent on the circumstances surrounding the delay or cancellation including whether the flight is an international or domestic flight and the duration and time of the flight. In cases of domestic flight delays, the airlines are mandated to provide the following to the passengers:

  • Reason for delay within 30 minutes of the scheduled departure time.
  • Free refreshment e.g. water and soft drink within the period.
  • Two telephone calls, text messages and email.
  • Immediate cash reimbursement of the full cost of the unutilized ticket at the purchase price.
  • Where the delay is between 10pm-4pm or at a time when the Airport is closed at the point of arrival or departure, hotel accommodation, transport between the Airport and place of accommodation must also be provided to the passengers.

In cases of international flight delays, the airline is obligated to provide the above listed as well as 30% of the passengers’ ticket price.

Where there is cancellation, the above must be provided in case of both international and domestic flight except,

  • Where the passenger has been informed of the cancellation 24 hours earlier where it is a domestic flight.
  • In a case of an international flight, the passengers must have been informed of the flight cancellation at least seven days earlier before the flight scheduled time.

Regardless of whether it is a domestic or international flight, passengers are also entitled to monetary refund. However, if the cancellation or delay was brought about by a supervening event outside of the carrier’s control, the carrier is not required to make up the difference.

  1. Right to be compensated for oversold tickets.[5]

Where an airline operator is faced with a situation of oversold tickets, the air carrier is under an obligation to compensate the volunteers, that is, people who willingly volunteer to board or join another air carrier after the practicable number of passengers are confirmed and fixed to a seat reservation with at least 25% of the fee or ticket price in case of domestic flight and 30% of the ticket price for international flight, they are also entitled to immediate cash reimbursement for domestic and international flight. Where it is an international flight, the full cost of unused ticket at the purchase for part or parts of journey not made must be reimbursed within 14 days.

  1. Right to be treated with dignity and respect:

The Regulation provides that irrespective of your tribe, race and physical condition, every passenger must be treated with respect and equal priority. Especially priority must be given to persons with reduced mobility and anyone accompanying them, unaccompanied minors and families.[6]

  1. Right to Accommodation and Care in Event of Delay, Cancellations, Denied Boarding or Downgrading.

With respect to the right to accommodation and care and in the event of a delay, cancellation, denied boarding or downgrading, section 19(10) Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation 2015 provides for the right to be cared for by the air carrier at the expense of the operating carrier. Care under this section means, free accommodation, transport between accommodation and hotel, free refreshment, meals, free phone call SMS, emails or fax messages. The regulation[7] further provides that where the delay is between 2 and 3 hours, the passengers shall be offered refreshments such as water, soft drinks, confectioneries, and snacks, all free of charge. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, SMS or emails. Where the delay is beyond 3 hours, which period falls between 10 pm till 4 am or at a time when the airport is closed at the point of departure or final destination, the passengers have a right to be accommodated free of charge in addition to being transported to and from the airport.

Financial compensation to air passengers is also a remedy available in the event of delay of carriage or breach of carriage. In the case of delay of domestic flight in Nigeria, there is no right to monetary compensation under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation. However, if the delay is in respect of international flight, and the delay is within the period of 2-4 hours, the passenger is entitled to monetary compensation in the value of 30% of the cost of the ticket.


Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation 2015 provides in part 19 that an airline consumer is entitled to have his/her baggage carried on the same flight he/she boards subject to the considerations of safety, security, or any other legal and valid cause.[8]

In a situation where such baggage has been off-loaded for operational, safety, or security reasons, the NCA regulation further provides that the air carrier shall inform the passenger at the soonest practicable time and in such manner that the passenger will readily know of the off-loading. Where the passenger’s baggage has been off-loaded, the air carrier is obliged to notify the passenger, even if it had already announced that the baggage would be on the next flight.

The air carrier is also under an obligation to tender an amount of five thousand Naira in cases of domestic flights and one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in cases of international flight to the passenger as compensation for the inconvenience suffered.

Should such baggage, whether carried on the same or a later flight, be lost or suffer any damage attributable to the air carrier, the passenger shall be compensated in accordance with the provisions of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Act.

For compensation purposes, a passenger’s baggage is presumed to have been permanently and totally lost, if within a period of 7 days for domestic flights and 21 days, for International flights, counted from the time the passenger or consignee should have received same, the baggage is not delivered to the said passenger or consignee. Refund of checked baggage fees will also apply, if the baggage is not delivered to the passenger within twenty-four (24) hours from the arrival of flight.

Other rights of Airline consumers under Nigerian law includes:

  • The right to full value for money paid
  • The right to seek redress for all irregularities during a flight
  • The right to timely feedback in respect of complaints lodged with service providers
  • The right to be fully informed about flight status



Nigerian legislations and rules regulating the aviation industries has provided several means of protecting consumers in the industry. This protection is crucial considering the volatile nature of air travel and the propensity of service producers to include exclusion clauses to limit their liability. The law limits this freedom of contract by ensuring that airline customers are entitled to the rights summed up in this article.



[1] International Air Transportation Association (IATA) “The Importance of Air Transport to Nigeria” available at:–value-of-aviation/ (accessed 19 January 2023).

[2]Official online copy available at: 19 January 2023).

[3]Official online copy available at: 19 January 2023).

[4]About NCAA, available at: 19 January 2023).

[5] Section 19(8) and 19(9) of the NCARs

[6] Section 19(12)of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation.

[7]Section 19(6) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation.

[8] Section 19(17) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations.

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