Flight delays can be frustrating and disruptive, especially when you have important plans or commitments. As a passenger, you have certain rights to protect your comfort and well-being during flight delays. In India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) has issued the flight passenger charter that defines your rights in the event of a flight delay.
Passenger rights during flight delays
Scenario 1: Checked in on time, but faced a delay
If you have checked in on time but your flight is delayed, you are entitled to free-of-charge meals and refreshments, related to the waiting time for your delayed flight. The airline must also ensure your comfort.
Scenario 2: Domestic Flight Delay (More than 6 hours)
If your domestic flight is expected to be delayed by more than 6 hours, the airline must:
- Communicate the rescheduled time more than 24 hours before the originally scheduled departure time.
- Offer you the choice of an alternate flight within 6 hours or a full refund of your ticket.
Scenario 3: Delayed Flight Departure (More than 24 hours)
If your flight departure is delayed by more than 24 hours or more than 6 hours for flights scheduled to depart between 20:00 and 03:00 hours, the airline must provide you with free hotel accommodation.
In addition to the rights mentioned above, you may also be entitled to other compensation depending on the specific circumstances of your flight delay. For example, if your flight delay causes you to miss a connecting flight or other important commitment, you may be entitled to compensation for the resulting expenses.
Here are some tips for dealing with flight delays:
- Be prepared. Pack a carry-on bag with essentials such as snacks, water, a book, and a phone charger.
- Be patient and understanding. Flight delays can happen for a variety of reasons, and there is often not much that the airline can do to prevent them.
- Be assertive. If your rights are not being upheld, don’t be afraid to speak up. You can ask for a supervisor if necessary.
How to Claim Your Rights
If your flight is delayed, you should first try to resolve the issue with the airline itself by claiming the money or flight ticket refund as per the rules defined above. Contact the flight helpdesk of the respective airlines or lodge your complaint online to the airlines. If the claim facility is available through their website, submit the claim form online.
File a complaint to AirSewa Nodal Officer:
If your rights are not fulfilled by the airlines or if you have other complaints, including violations of your flight rights by any airline, airport, or aircraft, you can lodge a grievance with the AirSewa Nodal Officer, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA).
- To file a complaint with the AirSewa Nodal Officer against airlines, you can visit the AirSewa website for the redressal of your flight grievance.
- To report a violation of regulation or rules, visit the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grievance redressal portal.
Reports of DGCA and Ministry of Civil Aviation on flight delays:
- According to the DGCA, there were over 20,000 flight delays in India in 2022, which increased by 15% in the last year (2022-23).
- The most common causes of flight delays in India are weather conditions, air traffic congestion, and technical problems with aircraft.
- The AirSewa portal has received over 1 million complaints from passengers since its launch in 2016.
The reports also highlight that Passengers are often unaware of their rights during flight delays. Airlines are often reluctant to compensate passengers for flight delays. But, the DGCA has taken action against airlines for violating passenger rights on several occasions.
Tips for flight travelling
Must follow these instructions while travelling with flight:
- Be aware of your rights as a passenger during flight delays.
- Keep all relevant documentation, such as your boarding pass, flight itinerary, and receipts for any expenses incurred due to the flight delay.
- Be polite and assertive when dealing with airline staff.
- If you are unable to resolve the issue with the airline directly, file a complaint with the AirSewa Nodal Officer.
Flight delays can be frustrating, but it is important to remember that you have rights as a passenger. If your flight is delayed, use your rights and take steps to protect your comfort and well-being.