Guest post by Pallavi Mohan
In 2021, around 8.38 crore people travelled on domestic flights in India, which is up from 6.3 crores in 2020. Currently, around 9 airlines operate domestically within India, apart from several regional airlines, charter airlines and cargo airlines.
Recently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) imposed a penalty of Rs. 10 lakh on the airline, Air India, for denying boarding to passengers holding valid tickets and then not providing mandatory compensation to them.
Ever wondered who regulates all these airlines and what are the different rights of passengers? Let’s discuss that.
Who regulates airlines in India?
The DGCA is the foremost authority regulating air transport services to/from/within India. It enforces civil air regulations, air safety and airworthiness standards.
Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) (issued by DGCA) and the Passenger Charter of Rights (‘Charter’) (issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation) currently define passenger rights.
What are a passenger’s rights if they are denied boarding due to overbooking of a flight?
As per the Charter, if a passenger is denied boarding due to overbooking and is not given an alternate flight within one hour of the original flight’s departure, the airline has to compensate them.
The DGCA also clarified the amount of compensation to be paid if a passenger is denied boarding despite holding a valid ticket and an alternate flight is not arranged within an hour –
- If the alternate flight arranged for is within 24 hours of the original flight’s departure, then an amount up to Rs. 10,000 has to be paid as compensation by the airline.
- If the alternate flight arranged for is beyond 24 hours of the original flight’s departure, then an amount up to Rs. 20,000 has to be paid as compensation by the airline.
What are a passenger’s rights if their flight gets delayed?
If a flight is delayed to a time within 6 hours from the original time of departure, the airline has to give them free-of-charge meals and refreshments according to the waiting time.
If the flight is delayed for over 6 hours but less than 24 hours, then the airlines have to either refund the total ticket cost to the passengers or offer them an alternate flight.
However, if the flight’s delay is of more than 24 hours or is more than 6 hours for flights scheduled to depart between 8 pm to 3 am (night flights), the airline has to arrange for hotel accommodations and transfers for passengers.
What are a passenger’s right if their flight gets cancelled?
The Charter mandates that the airline give a full refund of the ticket amount or an alternative flight if it informs the passengers about the flight cancellation less than 2 weeks before the flight’s departure but at least 24 hours before the time of departure. However, if the airline fails to inform the passenger at least 24 hours before the time of departure, or if they miss a connecting flight booked on the same ticket number because of the cancellation, then it has to pay compensation ranging between Rs 5,000 to 10,000 to the passenger.
How can a passenger seek remedies if they are denied boarding or if their flight is cancelled or delayed?
The AirSewa portal of the Ministry of Civil Aviation provides a system for online reporting and tracking of grievances concerning airports, flights and other air travel-related matters. By registering as a user on the AirSewa portal, anyone can file and track their grievance.