Frequent fliers pointed out gaps in the revised rules on passengers’ compensation on Monday. While the new rules make provisions for a five-fold increase in compensation to stranded passengers, fliers have said loopholes ensure airlines won’t have to pay passengers anything at all.
The policy categorises Air Traffic Congestion (ATC) with other ‘extraordinary circumstances’ beyond airlines’ control, such as political instability, natural disaster, civil war and riots. Airlines can thus avoid paying compensation for flight disruptions.
“We have strong objections to the inclusion of ATC delays in this section,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president of Air Passengers’ Association of India. He said such congestion is common at most metro airports.
“It is difficult to prove whether the congestion was caused by poor air navigation or if it was the airlines’ fault. This could lead to never-ending disputes,” he said.
The revised rules also permit airlines to refuse to pay damages if they inform fliers about flight cancellations or changes in schedule two weeks before the journey.
“This has happened to me more than once. The airlines claimed they had sent text messages and emails, which did not reach me. They turned down my request for compensation,” said Brijesh Gandhi, a Malad-based frequent flier.
Fliers said airlines could cite a lack of adequate personal information about their passengers as a reason for not informing them about cancellations or delays ahead of time.
“This is a sham. Airlines shouldn’t sell tickets without basic passenger information, such as their names, mobile phone numbers and e-mail IDs,” said Sooraj Thadani, a city-based entrepreneur who travels frequently.