Airlines Must Pay 400 Per Cent Refund If Passenger Offloaded: Govt

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Airlines need to refund the full value of passenger’s ticket and compensation equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare plus fuel charge in case the airlines denies boarding to him or her despite having confirmed ticket and if the passenger does not opt for an alternative flight provided by the airlines. The total amount of compensation can be claimed for this is maximum Rs 20,000, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Lok Sabha in reply to a question. Members of Parliament Devji M. Patel and Ram Shankar Katheria sought to know what protection passengers have when despite having confirmed ticket airlines deny them seat in the flight due to overbooking.

There is a common grievance against the airlines that they book tickets more than the number of seats available to make profit. In October this year, a total of 1,102 passengers were denied boarding by various airlines. Out of these, the highest was by Air India (822), followed by Spicejet (226), IndiGo (35), Air Asia (14) and least was by Vistara (5). The total amount compensated by the airlines to all these passengers was over Rs 47 lakhs. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) receives details of passengers affected due to denied boarding from the scheduled domestic airlines as part of monthly submission of traffic date.

In order to ensure appropriate protection of the air travellers in case of denied boarding, the DGCA had in February this year issued specific guidelines under Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for refunds. However, DGCA, primarily being a safety the regulatory body does not regulate the commercial activities of the airlines, the minister added.

As per CAR, if the boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the airline shall not be liable for any compensation if it arranges an alternate flight that is scheduled to depart within one hour of the original schedule departure time of the initial reservation.

Failing to do so the airlines will need to compensate an amount equal to 200% of booked one-way basic fare plus fuel charge subject to maximum Rs 10,000 in case the airlines arranges for an alternative flight that leaves within 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure. This compensation is 400% if the alternative flight departs after more than 24 hours of original departure time. Similarly, passengers are to be compensated through a refund or adjusting in other flights if a flight is delayed or cancelled.

In May this year, 3351 passengers were denied boarding by various airlines, highest among them was again Air India (2563 denied). This number was 3834 in June, 2,647 in July, 1,192 in August and 1,010 in September.