India’s DGCA warns carriers against improperly denying passengers boarding
India’s Civil Aviation Supervisory Authority has warned Indian airlines against denying passengers boarding with confirmed tickets. The warning comes as Indian aviation appears to be on the horizon for a record summer travel season now that the pandemic and all its related restrictions have been lifted.
Observing that it is common for airlines to overbook flights on busy routes, the DGCA called this “unfair practice” and warned against “strict action” which includes, but is not limited to, the imposition of financial penalties. This was communicated to all relevant stakeholders via email by the aviation regulator earlier this week.
Passengers on time cannot be denied boarding
Essentially, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation looks after the interests of Indian passengers by ensuring that all regulations are adhered to by the operators. The regulator has asked operators to strictly adhere to Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs) regulations when dealing with these issues. Specifically, Part IV of the M-series sets out specific guidelines that all operators must follow in the event of denied boarding, canceled flights or delayed flights.
Indian airlines have been warned by the DGCA against “unfair practices”. Photo: Getty Images
The rules state that if the airline refuses boarding on the booked flights but arranges a scheduled replacement flight within 24 hours of the original scheduled departure, the airline is required to provide all affected passengers with 200% of the fare of basic one way plus airline fuel charge. The maximum compensation provided may be INR 10,000 ($130). If the scheduled replacement flight is scheduled to depart more than 24 hours after the original scheduled departure, airlines owe passengers 400% of the base one-way fare and fuel costs. The maximum amount in this case will be INR 20,000 ($260).
Alternatively, the passenger can also choose not to fly at all. This scenario entitles the traveler to a full airfare refund in addition to the 200% base one-way fare and fuel charge. The airline does not need to provide any form of compensation if an alternate flight is arranged within one hour of the original scheduled departure time.
To be entitled to compensation, if applicable, passengers need only show up at the airport on time with a confirmed plane ticket. If the airline refuses to follow established guidelines, the DGCA has warned against imposing financial penalties. The passengers concerned can report their complaints on the Air Sewa online portal.
India’s aviation regulator has asked all operators to strictly adhere to established guidelines. Photo: Getty Images
It is heartening to see government organizations working to protect the interests of passengers. In particular, the Indian DGCA has been very active over the past few weeks. The regulator recently announced plans to check old and vulnerable aircraft during overnight layovers for any structural failures. In late April, the DGCA grounded a SpiceJet 737 after a passenger posted a tweet highlighting poor cabin conditions. The carrier was asked to repair the plane before flying it again.
The active role played by the DGCA will build passenger confidence in India and result in the development of a strong but responsible aviation industry in the country. This comes at a time when India’s aviation sector is expected to experience the fastest growth globally over the next two decades.
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