An Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency) rule obliges airlines to give an 80% discount on tickets for people with disabilities (PCD) who cannot travel alone.
Getting the discount, however, is not simple. Each company has a different procedure to check the information and release the benefit. And it is up to them to decide whether or not to give the abatement.
There are complaints from passengers who have had difficulty obtaining the discount. On December 10, 2022, dentist Luciana Menezes, 47, bought tickets from Latam for her and her daughter Malu, who has autism and severe intellectual disability, to fly on December 18, from Guarulhos to Fortaleza. Then she sent an email to the company, asking for the companion discount.
Luciana received a response by email on the 13th, with instructions to call a call center to proceed with the process. When calling, she had to speak with several attendants until one of them asked her to send an email with documents to the social passage sector.
On the 15th, she received another reply: she should have sent the email to another sector, that of medical forms. She forwarded the message and, the next day, called the switchboard again. After speaking with several attendants, she heard that the form sent had parts that were illegible and still under review.
Upon arriving in Guarulhos, on the 18th, he went to the Latam store at the airport. There, the attendants said they couldn’t do anything and that it was necessary to call the center to get the discount. Luciana then decided to buy her return ticket right there. She ended up paying 50% more than the amount paid for her daughter’s ticket, and flew to Fortaleza.
On the 19th, she received an email reply that the discount had been granted. And that since the outward journey had already taken place, she could only get the rebate for the return leg.
Sought, Latam said that it is assisting the passenger and that “it will deal with the case directly with her”.
Anac says that passengers who have problems with this benefit should seek help from consumer protection agencies. “In cases like this, the law determines the return of double the amount paid in excess”, explains David Douglas Guedes, lawyer for Idec (Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection).
Below are questions and answers about the benefit:
What’s the discount?
Accompanying people with disabilities or reduced mobility are entitled to purchase airline tickets with an 80% discount on the amount paid by the passenger with health problems.
Who has the right?
Accompanying passengers who have any of the following conditions:
- Need to travel on stretcher or incubator
- Unable to understand flight safety instructions, due to mental or intellectual impairment
- Unable to perform physiological needs without assistance
In these cases, the airline must provide a companion free of charge or determine that the person with a disability or with reduced mobility indicates a companion of their choice.
The decision on whether or not to grant the discount is up to the airlines. The benefit is regulated by Anac Resolution 280/2013.
How to get the discount?
In general, before purchasing, you must complete and submit a Fremec form (frequent traveler medical card) or Medif form (Medical Information Form, signed by the patient’s physician) and present documents that prove the need for follow-up.
Each airline has different procedures and deadlines. See below the guidelines of the main Brazilian companies:
- Before purchasing tickets, you must fill out a form on the website and attach medical documents. The material is analyzed by the company, which promises to respond within seven working days.
- Once approved, Fremec is valid for one to two years. During this period, all purchases of tickets for the companion will be entitled to the discount.
- With a valid Fremec, the customer has two options: he can make the purchase through the website, place the order on hold and then call the call center and request the discount. Or you can do the entire purchase over the phone.
- More information here.
- Before the trip, it is necessary to register Fremec. The form and exams must be sent to the email firstname.lastname@example.org. The company promises to respond within 48 hours. If approved, registration is valid for one year.
- With the registration approved, the customer receives a form to order the purchase of a discounted companion ticket, or he can also make the purchase through the telephone switchboard.
- If the ticket has already been purchased before Fremec validation, the discount is applied and the extra amount is refunded.
- The passenger needs to obtain authorization for the discount before purchasing the ticket. Discounted purchase orders can be placed over the phone. The attendant will open a request and ask you to send a Medif form, filled out by your doctor. When the analysis is completed, the company contacts the passenger to confirm whether or not to accept the flight. The response usually takes between 20 and 30 business days.
- Once you have the Medif approved, you will be eligible for a Fremec to be used on your next trips without having to resubmit your documents. Fremec can be valid for 6 to 24 months.
- More information here.
Does the benefit apply to international flights?
- Azul, Gol and Latam offer the discount on international flights operated by them.
- Foreign companies are obliged to give the discount on flights departing from Brazil, but not on flights arriving in the country from abroad.
What to do if the discount is denied or if the request goes unanswered?
Customers who have been poorly served can seek consumer protection agencies, such as Procon. Anac recommends that complaints be registered on the website Consumidor.gov.br, linked to the Ministry of Justice.
If the customer does not receive the discount before the trip, he can pay the full price and then ask for a refund of double the amount paid in excess.
“In cases like this, the law determines a double refund. But often companies only refund the difference. The person can accept this refund and then fight for the double amount”, explains David Douglas Guedes, lawyer at Idec Brazilian Consumer Protection Agency).
Guedes recommends that the injured customer keep evidence, such as call protocols and emails received. “If the service is done at booths, you can film the conversation or ask the attendant to hand over a document with the information he passed”, guides Guedes.
“The responsibility for proof is the company’s, but it is important that the consumer is surrounded by evidence as well”, he says. He also recommends that the passenger with health problems who claims the discount does not travel alone, as this may lead the airline to deny the benefit in the future, since it may claim that it has been proven that the person did not need an assistant.
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