As Delhi gears up for fog season, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday issued a guideline asking airlines to allow passengers to de-board and wait inside the terminal if the flight is delayed by two or more hours due to extreme weather conditions.
The regulator’s guideline comes in the wake of a large number of complaints by passengers last year. They had said the airlines had forced them to sit inside planes - for sometime as long as six hours - without any refreshments or information. Sources said the airlines usually are reluctant to allow passengers to de-board as they want to take off as soon as visibility improved on the runway.
“In case there is an uncertainty of the flight not being able to take off in the next two hours or so, the airline should make immediate arrangement for passenger disembarkation in consultation with airport operator and security agency. Airlines must also inform passengers periodically about the flight status. Refreshments should be provided during the waiting time,” said a DGCA official.
In case of low visibility at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), flights are usually diverted to nearby destinations such as Jaipur and Lucknow. The authorities there generally do not allow passengers to de-board as this would mean that they will have to conduct security checks all over again.
“The same happens in Delhi when visibility dips suddenly. After security check, the airlines avoid allowing passengers back to the terminal, as the process of security check has to be repeated. However, this should not lead to harassment and we are in touch with security agencies to find a solution,” the official added.
The DGCA had also received complaints of rude behaviour by airline staff following which it asked the airlines to ask their employees to be polite with passengers.