Flyers, who are more often than not at the receiving end of the arbitrary practices followed by most of the Indian carriers, now have reason to cheer as the new rules notified by the aviation regulator relating to cancellation charges, refunds, denied boarding due to overbooking, kick-in from Monday.
According to the new rules framed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), ticket cancellation charges shall not exceed the basic fare and fuel surcharge charged by airlines on a particular route.
Till last month, the cancellation charges varied from Rs 1,500 to 100% fare of the ticket depending upon the class, price level and time before the departure.
The regulator has ordered that airlines shall not levy any additional charge to process the refund and must “refund all statutory taxes and fees to passengers in case of cancellation, non-utilisation of tickets and no-show”. This provision is also for all types of fares offered, including promos/special fares and in cases where the basic fare is non-refundable.
Also, the DGCA has said that the airlines will be penalised heavily if they deny boarding to passengers due to overbooking of flights, or fail to inform them about cancellations in advance.
As per the revised aviation rules, airlines would be liable to pay up to Rs 20,000 for denying boarding to passengers, and up to Rs 10,000 for failing to inform in time about flight cancellations. HT had first reported on June 2 that the government was reviewing the rules relating to denied boarding and cancellation charges.
Till now, passengers were entitled to a compensation of only Rs 2,000-4,000 in case denied boarding.
“It had become necessary for the government to take action to ensure appropriate protection for the air travellers in case of flight disruptions, denied boarding, flight cancellations and delays in view of the increasing complaints,” said Rajji Rai, former chief of the Travel Agents Association of India.
If a passenger is not informed about the flight cancellation up to 24 hours of the scheduled time of departure, the airline shall provide compensation in “addition to the refund of air ticket” and up to “Rs 10,000, or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less for flights having a block time of more than two hours”.
In case of credit card payments, airlines will be required to refund the money within seven days of the cancellation. “In case of cash transactions, refund shall be made immediately by the airlines office from where the ticket was purchased.”
In case of purchase of tickets through a travel agent or portal, the onus of the refund shall lie with the airlines, the DGCA has said, as “agents are their appointed representatives”.
The option of holding the refund amount in “credit shell” by the airlines shall be the prerogative of the passenger and not a default practice of the airline, the rule says.
“Airline shall not levy any additional charge for correction in name of the same person, when error in the spelling is pointed out by the passenger after booking the ticket,” the DGCA has said.