It was a vacation they had planned to the last detail. Anju Varshney and her husband Rajiv Gupta, residents of south Delhi, had booked return tickets for Bagdogra way back in September last year.
Their travel itinerary included visits to Darjeeling and Sikkim among other places. However, their dreams came crashing on March 30, two days before they were to depart, when Anju got a message from the airline that their flight stands cancelled.
“A single one-way ticket at the last minute was costlier than return fares for the two of us. We had to cancel our trip,” Anju said.
“We had made arrangements for hotel accommodation and transport. But all my dreams were shattered,” she said in her complaint to aviation minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju and secretary V Somasundaram.
Air Passenger Association of India (APAI), the apex air travellers body, said such complaints were frequent. “We have suggested to the government for making a provision for some kind of insurance for passengers,” said D Sudhakar Reddy, president, APAI.
“There are cases where airlines don’t even refund the principal booking amount. I met the aviation secretary in February and requested the government to bring in a passenger rights act in Parliament and have submitted a detailed draft,” Reddy added.
“We have been demanding that airlines come up with a mechanism wherein passengers stranded at airports due to cancellations can be adjusted by other carriers,” said Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators.
“A passenger grievance mechanism exists and complaints are monitored by the Directorate General of Civil Association,” an aviation ministry official said.
“We are prompt with refunds and efforts are always made to adjust passengers in other flights,” a senior executive of a budget carrier said.