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Passenger Flights Rights: Passenger Rights Charter of Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India

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Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched the Passenger Charter to know the rights when you fly by flight or aircraft. If your flight rights are violated by any airline, airport, or aircraft, lodge a grievance with the AirSewa Nodal Officer.

If you know your rights, as a passenger you can enjoy a more comfortable and relaxing journey. This information from the Passenger Charter brings to you rules and rights that apply to your air travel in an easy-to-understand format.

Instruction: For more details and specific rules, please refer to the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) on the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) and other relevant laws and rules. General guidance and information on passenger rights are mentioned below.

1. Flight Delays while Traveling

Are you experiencing flight delays while travelling? Your rights as a passenger are the following, depending on the situation:

Scenario 1: Checked in on time at the airport, but the airline expects to delay of

Conditions:

  • Flight delay of 2 hours or more for flights up to 2½ hours block time
  • 3 hours or more for flights more than 2½ hours and up to 5 hours block time
  • 4 hours or more for flights not falling in the above categories.

Your Rights:

  • You are entitled to free-of-charge meals and refreshments, in relation to flight waiting time.

Scenario 2: Your domestic flight is expected to be delayed by more than 6 hours

Your Rights:

  • The airline must communicate to you for the rescheduled time more than 24 hours prior to the originally scheduled departure time of the flight.
  • The airline should offer the option of an alternate flight within a period of 6 hours or a full refund of the ticket.

Scenario 3: The airline experiences a delay in flight departure, even after

Conditions:

  • Delay in flight departure communicated more than 24 hours prior to its original scheduled time and
  • If the delay is more than 24 hours or more than 6 hours for flights scheduled to depart between 20:00 and 03:00 hours

Your Right:

  • You are entitled to free hotel accommodation by the airline

2. Flight Cancellation

As per the rules, if your flight gets cancelled, the airline has to inform you at least two weeks before your scheduled departure time. And if they do cancel it within two weeks of your departure time, have to either offer an alternative flight or refund your ticket – as acceptable to you.

Scenario 1: Flight cancellation less than two weeks

If your flight is cancelled and it’s less than two weeks before you were supposed to leave, but not less than 24 hours before you’re supposed to go as per the scheduled flight departure time.

Your Rights:

  • The airline has to offer you an alternative flight allowing you to depart or refund the ticket – whatever you prefer.

Scenario 2: Not informed of the cancellation or missed connecting flight

If the airline doesn’t inform you about flight cancellation as per the above provisions or missed the connecting flight that was part of the same ticket, here’s what you have options.

Your Rights:

The airline has to offer you either an alternate flight as acceptable to you or a full refund of the ticket with compensation, as follows:

  • For flights with a block time of up to and including 1 hour, the compensation amount is ₹5,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less.
  • For flights with a block time of more than 1 hour and up to and including 2 hours, the compensation amount is ₹7,500 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less.
  • For flights with a block time of more than 2 hours, the compensation amount is ₹10,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less.

Additional Information:

  • If you have already reported for the original flight and while you wait for the alternate flight, the airline must provide free-of-charge meals and refreshments, making your own in relation to waiting arrangements time.
  • If you’ve already checked in for your original flight and waiting for the alternate flight, the airline must provide you with free-of-charge meals and refreshments, making your own in relation to waiting arrangements time.
    • You won’t have to pay a single penny! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the complimentary snacks while you wait for your alternate flight.
  • If the airline offers you a flight to or from a different airport or terminal than the one originally booked, don’t worry! The airline will take care of transferring you to or from that alternate location at no extra cost to you. The airline will bear the cost of transferring.
    • However, if you’re informed of the change at least 6 hours in advance, have to make your own arrangements for getting to the new airport or terminal. Just make sure to keep this in mind and plan accordingly!

3. Boarding denied due to over-booking

Overbooking occurs when the number of passengers with confirmed bookings exceeds the number of available seats on a flight. In such a situation,

  • The airline must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats so that other passengers can travel on the flight. The airline may offer benefits such as free alternative flights, vouchers, or cashback/compensation in exchange for giving up a seat.
  • However, this option is only possible if the airport has dedicated check-in facilities and gate areas. If not, the airline may have to deny boarding to some passengers and provide compensation according to regulations.

Scenario 1: Arrangement for alternate flights within an hour

if you’re ever denied boarding on a flight due to over-booking, and the airline arranges an alternate flight for you that departs within an hour of the originally scheduled departure time:

  • You can not hold the airline responsible (liable) for compensating you for the missed original flight.
  • Just keep in mind that compensation for the missed flight is not an option in this case. Safe travels!

Scenario 2: The airline fails to arrange an alternate flight

If the airline fails to arrange an alternate flight that departs within an hour of the originally scheduled departure time, You must be compensated by the airline as per the following certain provisions:

Your rights:

  • If the airline arranges an alternate flight that’s scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the originally scheduled departure time, you’re entitled to compensation equal to 200% of the booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, up to a maximum of ₹10,000.
  • If the airline arranges an alternate flight that’s scheduled to depart more than 24 hours after the originally scheduled departure time, you’re entitled to compensation equal to 400% of the booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, up to a maximum of ₹20,000.
  • However, if you decide not to opt for an alternative flight, then you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket price, as well as compensation equal to 400% of the booked one-way basic fare, plus the airline fuel charge. The compensation is subject to a maximum of ₹20,000.

How long before you get a refund from the airline?

  • Immediately, if payment was made by cash or booked from the airline counter
  • Within 7 days, if payment was made by credit/debit card, internet banking, or UPI
  • From the travel agent (as per the refund policy of the agent/airline), if your payment was done by the travel agent

4. Flight Diversion

If your flight is diverted to a different destination, the concerned staff will communicate all your queries, and questions and provide constant updates of happenings and flight information. In this condition, the available remedies are:

Your Rights:

  • If the waiting time is more than two hours, the airline has to arrange for you to disembark at the nearest airport. During the waiting time, Facilitation/refreshments should be provided to the passenger.
  • But, if the waiting time is less than two hours at the alternative airport, in that case, the airline shall make an appropriate announcement for boarding, and provide you with refreshments and water, tea, and coffee.

5. Flight Cancellation Charges

When booking a flight, make sure to check the ticket cancellation charges. Ensure these guidelines:

  • According to the passenger charter, the amount of refund money you would receive upon cancelling your ticket should be clearly indicated by the airlines on the ticket itself or through a separate form used for this purpose.
  • Additionally, airlines are required to display their policy and the amount of refund on their respective websites for the convenience of their customers.

Your Rights:

  • According to airline regulations, if you cancel your ticket, you are entitled to a refund of all statutory taxes, user development fees, airport development fees, and passenger service fees, regardless of the type of fare you purchased.
  • The option of holding the refund amount in a credit shell by airlines is not a default practice and is entirely up to your discretion.
  • You are not required to pay any additional charges to process the refund.
  • If the airline is a foreign carrier operating to/from India, you will receive your ticket refund in accordance with the regulations of the airline’s country of origin.
  • Airline regulations require that at least one integrated display be provided that includes the schedules, fares, rules, and seat availability of all participating carriers.
  • If you notice a legitimate correction to your name within 24 hours of booking, the airline will not levy any additional charge to incorporate the correction.

Scenario 1: Cancellation or amendment within 24 hours of ticket booking

You can cancel, amend, or make changes to the ticket without any additional charges within 24 hours of booking the flight ticket. However, this facility is available to you up to 7 days before the specified flight departure on the first leg.

6. Rights, if you have a disability

Your rights, especially if you have specific needs due to a disability:

  • Airlines cannot refuse to carry you along with your assistive aids/devices, escorts, and guide dogs. This means that you can bring your necessary equipment with you and won’t be turned away because of it.
  • It’s the airline’s responsibility to obtain all necessary information about your specific requirements at the time of ticketing or online booking. This ensures that they’re aware of your needs and can make any necessary arrangements ahead of time.
  • To ensure that the airlines have enough time to prepare for your arrival, you must notify them about your needs at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled departure time.
  • If you’re being assisted by an escort, the airlines will make all reasonable efforts to give them a seat next to you. If need help, you have someone close for assistance.
  • The cabin crew in charge must brief you before take-off on the emergency procedures, cabin layout, and specialized equipment on board the aircraft that cater to your needs. This will help you feel more comfortable and prepared in case of an emergency.
  • If you’re being denied carriage due to your disability, the airline must specify in writing the reasons for it. This ensures that you’re aware of why you’re being turned away and can take any necessary steps to address the issue.
  • As a passenger with a disability, you hold the highest priority for transportation, including your escorts. If for any reason off-loading has to be done by the airline, they will prioritize your transportation needs.
  • If you wish to travel without an escort, you are not required to produce a medical certificate or fill up special forms. This gives you the freedom to travel on your own terms without any additional paperwork or requirements.
  • You will be allocated convenient seats and provided with all relevant and available assistive devices within India without any extra cost. This ensures that you’re comfortable and have everything you need during your flight.
  • Finally, arrangements for your quick clearance and baggage delivery will be made by the airlines. This ensures that you have a smooth and stress-free travel experience from start to finish.

7. Medical emergency at the airport

If you ever feel unfit or can sense a medical emergency during air travel or airport, stay calm. All the airports are equipped with the following resources:

  • Medical doctors
  • Ambulance: Emergency medical transportation to nearby hospitals
  • Medical support equipment
  • Paramedical personnel
  • Expert handling of medical emergencies

If you ever feel unwell or sense a medical emergency, reach out for assistance at the airport.

8. In unfortunate eventuality: Accidents or any incidents within aircraft

Although no one likes to think about it, accidents and unfortunate incidents can happen during air travel. In such cases, it’s important to know your rights and the compensation you’re entitled to receive. Follow these provisions:

During International Travel:

  • If a passenger is injured or dies while on board an aircraft, the airline is liable to pay damages up to 113,100 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) per passenger.
  • However, if the death occurs due to natural causes, the airline is not liable to pay any compensation.

For Domestic Travel:

  • If a passenger is injured or dies while on board a domestic flight, the airline is liable to pay up to ₹20,00,000 per passenger.
  • In the case of a passenger’s death due to natural causes, the airline is not liable to pay any compensation.

8. Lost, delayed, or damaged baggage or cargo

You can claim damages from the airlines only when the event that caused the loss, delay, or damage took place on board the aircraft or during any period within which the checked baggage was in charge of the carrier.

Additionally, in case of unchecked baggage, the carrier is liable if the damage has resulted from its fault or that of its agents. Provisions for compensation are:

International Carriage:

  • Liability for loss, delay, or damage to baggage is limited to 1,131 SDR per passenger. While this may not cover the full value of your lost or damaged items.
  • Liability for loss, delay, or damage to cargo is limited to 19 SDR per kg. If you’re transporting cargo internationally, make sure to consider these limitations when determining the value of your shipment.

Domestic Carriage:

  • The carrier’s liability for loss, delay, or damage to baggage is limited to ₹20,000 per passenger. This may provide more substantial coverage for your belongings, but certain items may not be covered.
  • Liability for loss, delay, or damage to cargo is limited to ₹350 per kg. If you’re shipping cargo domestically, it’s important to consider this limitation when determining the value of your shipment.

9. Other rights of passengers

Some basic rights of passengers like the right to information and escalation, if the disputes are not resolved by the airlines, airports, or any aircraft service provider, are mentioned below.

  • Right to Information
  • Right to Escalation

If not satisfied with airlines, report with the AirSewa or appellate authorities about the violation of rights.

I. Right to information

As a passenger, it is your right to be informed of your entitlements in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or delays. Here are some important provisions:

  • A clear notice must be displayed at the check-in counter, containing information on your rights to compensation and assistance. This notice is meant to be easily legible and accessible and will provide important information in case you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed.
  • In the event that you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled, the operating carrier is obligated to provide you with a written notice outlining your entitlements to compensation and assistance. The notice must be in line with the regulation and should also include the contact details of the escalation mechanism.
  • For visually impaired passengers, alternative means will be used to provide the information in this article.
  • It is recommended that you review the copy of the Passenger Charter given along with your ticket. This charter can also be found in in-flight magazines and at airports and contains important information on your rights as a passenger.
  • Airlines are required to submit data on the number of cases of denied boarding, cancellations, and delays on a monthly basis to the DGCA. This information can be accessed on the DGCA portal, providing you with valuable insight into the airline’s performance and adherence to regulations.

II. Right to escalation

The right to escalation allows you to raise concerns or complaints to higher authorities if the resolution provided by airlines, airports, or aircraft operators and lower-level authorities is not satisfactory. Here are the different ways and civil aviation authorities in which you can exercise your right to escalation:

  1. You can approach help desks placed at arrival and departure stations (airports) to lodge your complaint and claim compensation.
    • These help desks are designed to provide immediate assistance and support to travellers in case of lost or damaged baggage, flight delays, or any other issues.
    • You may also complain electronically through various platforms, including airline websites or apps.
  2. If you are not satisfied with the resolution provided by the airline, you can take your complaint to the next level and file a grievance with the AirSewa Nodal Officer, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) against the airlines or aircraft operators.
    • This AirSewa platform is designed to provide a seamless and hassle-free process for travellers to raise their concerns and complaints.
    • You can expect a response within a specified time period, ensuring that your complaint is being actively addressed.
  3. In some cases, even the AirSewa Nodal Officer, MoCA may not be able to provide a satisfactory resolution. That’s when you can escalate your complaint to any statutory body or court set up under relevant applicable laws.
    • You may also approach the aviation tribunal, consumer commission for violation of consumer rights, or arbitration tribunal (if constituted)
    • This gives you the assurance that there are higher authorities in place to ensure that your grievances are heard and addressed appropriately.

So the next time you face any issues during air travel, conduct your right to escalation and seek the resolution you deserve.

10. Force majeure

Air travel can sometimes be unpredictable, and delays and cancellations are often a frustrating reality for passengers. However, airlines are not always responsible for such disruptions, especially in cases of force majeure. Provisions related to force majeure and its impact on compensation:

  • Force majeure refers to unforeseen and extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the airline, which may cause delays or cancellations.
    • Examples of such circumstances include political instability, natural disasters, civil war, insurrection or riot, flood, explosion, government regulation or order affecting the aircraft, strikes, and labour disputes causing cessation, slowdown, or interruption of work.
    • In such cases, the airline is not obligated to pay compensation, as the situation is beyond their control, and even reasonable measures could not have avoided the delay or cancellation.
  • Additionally, the airline will also not be liable to pay compensation for delays that are attributable to air traffic control, security risks, meteorological conditions, or any other causes that are beyond the control of the airline.
    • In such cases, the airline is not responsible for the delay or cancellation, and compensation is not owed.
    • However, the airline must have taken all reasonable measures to avoid or overcome the impact of the relevant factor causing the delay or cancellation.
  • Extraordinary circumstances include the impact of an air traffic management decision in relation to:
    • A particular/several aircraft on a particular day gives rise to long delays or an overnight delay
    • The cancellation of one or more flights by that aircraft, and possibly, which could not be avoided

In last, force majeure is a legal concept that airlines can use to justify delays or cancellations in exceptional circumstances beyond their control. However, it is still essential for airlines to take reasonable measures to avoid or overcome the impact of the relevant factors and to communicate clearly with passengers affected by disruptions.

This better understanding and implications of these flight rights and entitlements will be very helpful when it comes to air travel.

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