The DCGA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) decided to ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on March 12 with immediate effect until safety measures are taken in connection with the technical concerns. With Jet Airways already having its aircrafts grounded over financial ailments, and SpiceJet having to stop operating 12 of its Boeing 737 MAX, there are bound to be more flight cancellations than usual.
In fact, a DCGA traffic report for the period between September 2018 and January 2019 showed that approximately 8.64 lakh domestic passengers faced denial/delay in boarding or cancellation of flights and in this regard airlines have spent over Rs 16 crore in compensation.
To address the issue and provide fair compensation to the passengers, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had released a passenger charter last month to address these issues. Here are all the new changes you need to be aware of:
For a change in your travel itinerary soon after the ticket has been booked or in case of a genuine mistake in the booking, changes will be allowed free of charge under the "Look In" option on the airlines' website.
For ticket cancellation or an amendment made within 24 hours of booking there will no charges provided that the scheduled departure of the flight is not less than 7 days away.
In case, the ticket cancellation is done less than 7 days of the journey, the cancellation charges will not exceed the total of the base fare and surcharge. Other elements like tax, airport development fee, passenger service fee and user development fee will have to be refunded in full.
Additionally, no charges will be applicable on legitimate correction in name and other details of the passenger on the ticket when pointed out within 24 hours of booking.
The "look-in" option will deactivate 24 hours after the booking.
Denied boarding due to overbooking
On denial to board due to overbooking of a flight, the airline will not pay any compensation if they provide an alternative flight to the passenger that is scheduled to depart within 1 hour of the flight that he/she was supposed to board. If the airline fails to do so, it will have to compensate with:
- 200 percent of the basic + fuel surcharge (up to Rs 10,000) if the alternate flight is scheduled for departure within 24 hours of the actual flight departure time
- 400 percent of the basic + fuel surcharge (up to Rs 20,000) if the alternate flight is scheduled for departure after 24 hours of the actual flight departure time
- Full refund of the value of the ticket along with 400 percent of the basic + fuel surcharge (up to Rs 20,000) will be given in compensation if the passenger cannot opt for the alternate flight.
If the airline informs the passenger of the booked flight cancellation less than two weeks or up to 24 hours of the scheduled time of the departure, the airline will have to offer the option of an alternate flight or ticket refund to the passenger.
If the airline fails to inform the passenger of the cancellation or if the passenger misses a connecting flight (booked on the same ticket) as a result, the airline will have to provide an alternative flight or full refund with compensation:
|Flight up to 1 hour (block time)||Refund of ticket fare or Rs 5,000 (whichever is lower)|
|Flight more than 1 hour up to 2 hours (block time)||Refund of ticket fare or Rs 7,500 (whichever is lower)|
|Flight more than 2 hours (block time)||Refund of ticket fare or Rs 10,000 (whichever is lower)|
Block time means the aircraft travel time from the departure gate to arrival gate.
Compensation will not be provided if the cancellation occurs due to situations beyond the control of the airline like a natural disaster, war, meteorological conditions or delays due to Air Traffic Control.
Additionally, one needs to be holding confirmed tickets with valid travel documents and be present at the airport at the time specified by the airlines for check-in to be entitled to a claim.
One also needs to make sure that the correct contact information (phone number and email address) was provided to the airlines at the time of booking.
At first, you have to approach the airline directly for any compensation or rescheduling. The compensation will be paid to you either in cash, bank transfer or travel vouchers.
If the airline does not provide an alternative or compensation as specified by the DGCA rules, one can file their grievances on the Air Sewa app or portal, which is the grievance redressal system of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
If you are still not satisfied with the resolution, you can file a complaint with any statutory body or court.