When: 01 August, 2016
Where: All Domestic Carriers within India
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Cases of air travelers denied a seat despite carrying a confirmed ticket is seeing a sharp rise. The peak summer travel month saw 1,873 cases of boarding being denied, the highest this year! Airlines are permitted to sell seats up to 15% above a plane’s capacity in anticipation of last-minute cancellations and stray passengers who missed their flights. Many leisure travelers book flights up to seven to nine months earlier to take advantage of flash sales. A significant section of such bookings are cancelled or revised closer to the date of travel. As a result, airlines continue to overbook. But the menace could be short-lived, after the flier-friendly new civil aviation policy draft. It has proposed maximum compensation of Rs 20,000, five times higher than the existing rules in addition to a full refund.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced these compensation rules to offer adequate protection to air travelers in case of flight disruptions, denied boarding, flight cancellations and delays without due notice to the passengers booked on the flights. Cancelling a flight or denying boarding to a flier is going to cost heavily to domestic airlines as the new guidelines by the aviation regulator DGCA provides for massive compensation in such cases. As per the revised compensation norms, which are effective from August 1, 2016, an airline will have to pay up to Rs 10,000 to a flier in the case of cancelling/delaying a flight beyond two hours, while the compensation for not allowing a passenger to board the flight stands at up to Rs 20,000.
If the boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the airline shall not be liable for any compensation in case an alternate flight is arranged that is scheduled to depart within one hour of the original schedule departure time of the initial reservation. But failing to do so, the airline shall compensate the passengers an amount equal to 200 per cent of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to a maximum of Rs 10,000, in case airline arranges alternate flight that is scheduled to depart within the 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure.
Domestic fliers’ rights
In case you are denied boarding, here’s what you can claim:
- A full refund
- Re-booking on another flight to your destination
- Arranging alternative mode of transport to the destination
Compensation proposed in new draft
If an airline fails to provide alternative flight within an hour of the booked ticket
- Maximum compensation of Rs 10,000 if an airline provides an alternative flight within 24 hours
- Maximum compensation of Rs 20,000 if the alternative flight is provided beyond 24 hours
- Maximum compensation of Rs 20,000 and full refund if a passenger refuses to take alternative flights
How to avoid being denied a seat
Web check-in: One of the best ways to avoid being denied a seat is to Web check-in. Many airlines open 48 hours before the journey. In case you are unable to do so, collect your boarding pass from the self check-in booths, instead of waiting in a queue.
Pick a seat: When an airline assigns you a seat, it becomes cumbersome for the crew to deny you a journey. But budget carriers charge extra for large leg-room seats. So, if you don’t wish to spend more, pick a seat in the middle isle.
Avoid rush hours: If possible, avoid taking flights during peak rush hours — 7am to 10am and 6pm to 9pm — particularly if you are shuttling between metros. It’s also prudent to skip travel dates that coincide with festivals and long weekends.
Budget airlines could be a good option: Some no-frill carriers have a no-overbooking policy. So, for urgent trips, such as a medical emergency at home, travel operators advise avoiding full-service airlines.
Royalty programmes: Airlines tend to give first preference to travelers belonging to their frequent flier schemes; offloading such passengers could be the last thing on their mind. Therefore, pick airlines that offer such programmes.
*For Flyer’s Interest: For foreign carriers, the compensation payable will be based on regulations in their country of origin.