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Legal Now, Airlines To Pay Compensation To Passengers In Case Of Delays

Jan 1, 2010
NEW DELHI: Airlines will now have to pay compensation to those passengers who have been denied boarding or whose flights have been delayed or cancelled without prior notice barring situations beyond their control.

In a new Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) issued today that will be effective from August 15, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has made it mandatory for airlines to pay a compensation for delay and cancellation of flights or in case the passengers were denied boarding despite having a confirmed ticket.

However, airlines will not be liable to pay the compensation if the delay or cancellation takes place due to reasons beyond their control.

Strike, labour problems and ATC-related delays are some of such factors, sources said.

Airlines are also exempted from paying compensation in case of political instability, natural disaster, civil war, insurrection or riot, flood, explosion, government regulation or order affecting the aircraft, meteorological conditions and security risks.

Passengers will be entitled to get a compensation of Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000 if their flights are delayed from two hours to four hours.

If a passenger, who have a confirmed ticket and reported well ahead of the scheduled departure of his flight, is denied boarding due to "overbooking", the airline will be liable to compensate the passenger.

Airlines overbook their flights to a limited extent to reduce the possibility of planes departing with empty seats because of 'No Shows', which means passengers do not report for travel despite confirmed bookings before the time limit stipulated by the airline.

The CAR allows the airlines to charge 'No Show' penalties on such passengers to minimise such incident in accordance to the fare as defined under rule 135 of the Aircraft Rules 1937.

This penalty will be deducted from the fare paid by the passenger.

In case of cancellation of flights, the CAR makes it mandatory for the airlines to inform the passengers about it three hours in advance from the scheduled departure of the flight to reduce inconvenience to them.

The airlines will have to collect detailed contact information of a passenger like telephone number (landline or mobile), and/or fax number and/or e-mail id at the time of reservation.

However, passengers, who refuse to furnish such information could be denied compensation by the airlines.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Here is what they will end up saying. Everything that happens is beyond their control. Try in the US to get a ticket refund for a cancelled fight even IF you have purchased insurance. It is always a case of no one is responsible. The ticket agency blames the air line and the air line blames the agency and they both blame God.
Jan 1, 2010
Reality check: No payout for delays

MUMBAI: Contrary to the general perception, air passengers in India will not get any financial compensation for flight delays, no matter how long they are forced to wait. But from August 15, flyers will be compensated monetarily if any airline denies them boarding despite them having reported at the check-in counter on time with a confirmed air ticket. Such incidents are known to take place during peak season when airlines overbook.

Other than that, financial compensation will be payable only in case of flight cancellation, provided it is not for reasons beyond the control of an airline and if the carrier has not informed the flyer three hours in advance. In short, the Director General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) independence day package has very few goodies for the janta.

On Friday, the DGCA issued the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR), section 3-air transport, listing the facilities to be provided to passengers by airlines in case of denial of boarding, delays and cancellation of flights. The new norms will come into effect from August 15. The DGCA had put up a draft proposal in July and it was open to objections and suggestions. The final document almost sticks to the draft proposal in content, except for a few changes, like, for instance, the rules which apply to Indian carriers will also be applicable to foreign carriers operating to/from India.

If anything, the CAR ensures that airlines save some money in case of flight delays "due to events of force majeure, or extraordinary circumstances". These include floods and other weather conditions, airline strikes and labour disputes, air traffic control issues, political instability, natural disasters, civil war, insurrection or riots, and explosions. So, if your flight is delayed due to any of the above reasons, the airline is not obliged to serve you meal or refreshments. Even if the flight is delayed by more than 24 hours due to such extraordinary reasons, the airline need not provide you hotel accommodation.

Incidentally, most airlines do serve meals and offer hotel accommodation (though during the recent volcanic fog flight disruptions, it was not possible to do so) even when the delay is not due to reasons under their control. A few weeks ago, for instance, Air India served breakfast to passengers on its Frankfurt-Ahmedabad flight which had to be diverted to Mumbai as a Jet Airways ATR had blocked the runway for hours together after landing with a nose-gear problem.

So, what does the CAR hold for the passenger? The only encouraging news is that air passengers will get compensated for being denied boarding (apart from getting the ticket refund if the passenger does not opt for another flight) if they hold a valid ticket and if they report at the airport on time. The quantum of compensation, though, is meagre — Rs 4,000 or the value of the ticket, whichever is lesser, for flights more than two hours. It means if you are offloaded from a Mumbai-New York flight, the airline will pay you a $86 compensation. So, it would be prudent to arrive at the airport well ahead of time, especially if you have booked your ticket months in advance and got a cheap fare. Other than the compensation, the offloaded passenger will get the option of taking a ticket refund at the price it was purchased or "a flight to the first point of departure" or an alternate mode of transport (which sure would not work in the case of a flight to New York).

But there are things that passengers should look out for. If a passenger — after buying a confirmed ticket — does not report at the check-in counter within the time stipulated by the airline, the carrier can levy a no-show penalty. And in case of a flight cancellation, financial compensation needs to be paid only if the airline fails to inform the passenger about it at least three hours in advance.


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