The reduced cost of air ticket has made flight travel affordable among the masses. Now we no longer have to spend days in the train before reaching our destination - it’s a matter of hours. However, with progress comes several setbacks that might hinder happy, hassle-free air travel.
Here are possible shortcomings of air travel and the right for all travelers to know what they are entitled to!
Denial of Boarding
Airlines sometimes tend to book tickets more than they have seats on the aircraft. If such a situation arises, the airline should first of passengers willing to voluntarily give up their seats who would then be booked in another flight and may even enjoy some perks at the airline’s discretion.
Scenario 1 – If the airline has arranged for an alternate flight that is scheduled to depart within one hour of departure of the original scheduled departure time.
PASSENGER'S RIGHT – The airline cannot be held responsible for any compensation if the passenger has missed the original flight on which the passenger was denied boarding due to overbooking.
Scenario 2 – In case the airline fails to arrange for an alternate flight to depart within an hour of the original scheduled flight then the passenger should be compensated under the below provisions
PASSENGER'S RIGHT –
a. Compensation equal to 200% of booked one-way basic fare + airline fuel charge, subjected to maximum of INR 10,000 if airline has arranged an alternate flight scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the booked schedule departure.
b. Compensation equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare + airline fuel charge, subjected to maximum of INR 20,000 if airline has arranged an alternate flight scheduled to depart more than 24 hours of the booked schedule departure.
c. Refund of full-value of ticket and compensation equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare + airline fuel charge, subjected to INR 20,000 if the passenger does not wish to opt for alternate flight.
How many times recently have you been stranded in an airport due to delayed flight? Have you ever been offered free of charge meals or free hotel accommodation while waiting? Under the below scenarios the airline should be offering you these services.
Scenario 1 – The passenger checked in on time, but the airline expects a delay of
a. 2 hours or more when the flight has a block-time* of up to 2.5 hours
b. 3 hours or more when the flight has a block-time of more than 2.5 hours and up to 5 hours
c. 4 hours or more when it does not fall under any of the two scenarios mentioned above
* Block time is the time considered from the brake release from the gate at the departure airport to the time brakes are set and main cabin door opens at the destination. Flight time is the time from the wheel leaving the ground to the time they touch back down!
PASSENGER'S RIGHT – The airline must offer free-of-charge meals and refreshments for the passenger waiting time!
Scenario 2 – In case a delay of more than 6 hours domestic flight is expected to be delayed by 6 hours or more
PASSENGER'S RIGHT – The airline should intimate the passenger/ passengers of the reschedule departure time 24 hours prior to the original scheduled departure time!
PASSENGER'S RIGHT – The airline should either provide an alternate flight within a period of 6 hours or full refund of the ticket to the passenger!
Scenario 3 – If the airline experiences a delay in flight departure communicated more than 24 hours prior to its original schedule time or more than 6 hours for flights scheduled to depart between 20:00 and 3:00
PASSENGER'S RIGHT – Free hotel accommodation
Cancellation of Scheduled Flight
Cancellation of flights is as frequent as delayed flight or probably even more. The number of cancelled flights make the news headlines literally every other day. One can only imagine what the passengers might be going through. Here are some things to keep in mind if your flight is cancelled.
Scenario 1 – If the airlinehas informed the passenger of cancellation less than two weeks before but up to 24 hours prior to the departure of the scheduled flight.
PASSENGER'S RIGHT – To be offered an alternate flight allowing the passenger to depart or be refunded their ticket amount – whatever the passenger finds desirable.
Scenario 2 – The passenger has not been informed as per the above provisions or have missed the connecting flight booked on the same ticket number due to the airline
PASSENGER'S RIGHT – To be offered an alternate flight allowing you to depart or refund the ticket – whatever the passenger finds desirable.
a. For flights with block-time for up to 1 hour and including an hour, compensation of INR 5,000 OR book one-way basic fare + airline fuel charge – whichever is less!
b. For flights with block-time of more than an hour and up to and including 2 hours, compensation of INR 7,500 or book one-way basic fare + airline fuel charge – whichever is less!
c. For flight with block-time of more than 2 hours, compensation of INR 10,000 or book one-way basic fare + airline fuel charge – whichever is less!
a. In case the passenger has reported for the original flight, the airline should provide free-of-charge meals and refreshments to the passenger, he/she waits for the alternate flight.
b. The passenger must provide adequate contact information at the time of the booking for the airline to compensate in case compensation is preferred, or else no compensation will be paid.
c. If the airline offers the passenger a flight to/from the airport/terminal other than what the passenger had booked, then the airline is liable to bear the cost of transferring the passenger to/ from their alternate airport/terminal to the airport/ terminal they had actually booked. In case the passenger is informed 6 hours prior of the change, then the passenger is responsible for making his/her own arrangements.
Although this is not so frequent but nonetheless can happen. In case the flight is diverted to a different destination than what was booked by the passenger, concerned staff would answer all the queries and also keep the passenger updated on the development
PASSENGER'S RIGHT –
a. If the waiting time is more than two hours, then the airline should make immediate arrangement to disembark at the nearest airport. Facilitation/ refreshments should be provided to the passenger during the waiting period
b. If waiting time is less than two hours at the alternate airport, then appropriate announcement for boarding should be made. Refreshments, water, tea or coffee should be provided.
No-charge Cancellation or Amendment Within 24 hours
Passengers can amend or cancel the ticket within 24 hours of booking the ticket without facing any additional charges. This facility is available up to 7 days prior to the first-leg departure of the specified flight.
Loss, Delay or Damage to Baggage
As long as the damages are caused on board the aircraft or during the period when the carrier was in charge of the passengers’ baggage, the airline are liable to bear the damages
a. In case of loss, delay, or damage to baggage, the carrier is liable to compensate INR 20,000 per passenger.
b. On the other hand, in case of damage, loss or delay to cargo, carrier is liable to compensate INR 350/kg.
Circumstances Under Which No Compensation Will Be Disbursed By The Airline
a. Airlines are not liable to pay compensation if the delays and cancellations are caused by an event of force majeure, otherwise known as extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of airline which would lead to delay in flight schedule. For instance – political instability, natural disaster, civil war, insurgence or riot, flood, explosion, government regulation or order affecting aircraft, strikes and labour disputes causing interruption in the flow of work.
b. In addition to the above, the airline will not be subjected to paying compensation because of delay due to air traffic control, meteorological conditions, security risk, etc.
Escalation is Your Right
It is always better to follow a hierarchy and raise complaints so that the “pecking order” isn’t skipped and every department in the chain is aware of the dissatisfied service
a. The passenger can lodge and claim compensation at help desks placed at arrival and departure stations and also raise it electronically (via email)
b. Unsatisfied with the resolution at the helpdesk of the airline, file the grievance on AirSewa app or portal - https://airsewa.gov.in/home
c. If the passenger still remains unsatisfied with how his/her/their grievance has been handled, he/she or they can complain to any statutory body or court set up under relevant applicable laws.
All the above provisions and right have been published by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India in February 2019 under the provisions of Rule 133A of Aircraft Rules, 1937 for information, guidance and compliance by all organizations who operate flights to international destinations or intends to in future. And these rights are some basic ones which air travelers should be familiar with. There are certain sites which still has old compensation amounts for lost or damaged baggage. With this information in hand you can always challenge the airlines and ask them for a valid explanation behind following the old rule.
For more information you can visit the Ministry of Civil aviation site - https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/
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