The Ministry of Civil Aviation, under Union Minister, Suresh Prabhu, announced the New Air Passenger Charter, on 28 February 2019. The charter clearly defines the rights of travellers and liabilities of airlines, operating in the domestic sector. The past few years saw an increase in the numbers of air passengers seeking redressal of their grievances, with regards to fares, flights, refunds, catering and baggage etc.
The new air passenger charter Feb 2019, introduced by the Central Government, is a result of a series of discussions with various civil aviation companies. The charter stands to benefit travellers and aviation companies alike. The airline companies can no longer dictate terms and will now have to go by the rule.
Read the Air Passenger Charter Feb 2019 introduced by the Ministry of Civil aviation India.
So, what is in it for the traveller?
Air travellers can rejoice because the charter contains detailed specifics that protects their rights. According to the new charter, travellers can expect a better experience when dealing with airlines. The process of refunds, for instance, is set to be easier and quicker.
Other aspects covered in the charter include flight delays, flight cancellations, overbooking of flights, flight diversion and other unforeseen exigencies that inconvenience travellers. The system has been made more efficient and customer-friendly.
What are the new regulations?
- The new regulations described in the charter will benefit air travellers. Here is a gist of the new rules that are now in place and how each of these rules will benefit air travellers.
- The new air passenger charter appropriates the precise reimbursement and charges due to passengers, in case a flight is rescheduled or cancelled. However, airlines are required to comply with the new set of rules only when they are directly responsible for rescheduling or cancellation of a flight
- According to the charter airlines can no longer charge passengers for ticket cancellation, if the cancellation is made within 24 hours of booking the ticket provided the tickets are booked for a flight at least a week from the day of the flight
- The directives in the charter state that airlines will have to compensate travellers, where the airline cancels a flight, at short notice, and is unable to provide the passengers with an alternative flight that is suitable to the latter. Passengers have the right to decline an alternate flight offered to them and demand a full reimbursement instead.
- Airlines are mandated to give at least a day’s notice if a flight’s departure is to be rescheduled, to avoid paying compensation to the travellers. Failing which, the airlines will have to refund the full cost of the ticket in addition to a compensation
- The rules of compensation have also been laid down. For cancelled or rescheduled flights that had a duration of over two hours, airlines will now be liable to pay compensation ranging between Rs. 5.000 and Rs.10,000 or pay as compensation one-way base fare and fuel charge, whichever is less
- Airlines will now have to provide free accommodation to passengers, in an event where a flight scheduled at night, is delayed by more than 6 hours. This includes flights that are scheduled to depart between 20:00-03:00 hours
- Additionally, the directives clearly say that carriers will have to provide passengers with refreshments and free meals if a flight is likely to be delayed or is delayed by more than four hours
- Passengers are entitled to full reimbursement of their ticket, in instances where the flight departure is delayed by more than 6 hours
- Airlines are obliged to intimate passengers of the new flight schedule, 24 hours in advance, in case the schedule is delayed by 6 hours or more
- The charter asserts that airlines are duty bound to intimate passengers of flight cancellations a minimum of two weeks prior to departure. It is the airline’s responsibility to accommodate passengers on other flights or refund the air-fare, without any deductions
- Further, airlines now must provide passengers who arrive at the airport, for a flight that has been delayed, with refreshments and a free meal
- The new rules ask the airlines to compensate passengers a sum of Rs. 10,000 if they miss a connecting flight, because of a delayed departure
- Airlines sometimes cannot accommodate all passengers with valid tickets, because of overbooking. Airlines will now have to provide passengers who cannot be accommodated on a flight because it is overbooked, with seats on another flight that is scheduled to fly within an hour of the booked flight. When it is unable to do so, the airline will have to compensate the passengers, up to Rs.20,000
- An airline will now have to refund the full amount of the ticket to the passengers, in case it cancels the tickets. The refund will include all charges paid by the passenger, at the time of booking the flight – such as statutory taxes, passenger service fee and user development etc.
- However, these rules will not apply to international flights. Airlines operating international flights will be guided by their internal refund policies