DGCA Charter for Passenger Claims: Aviation Law
The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation released the new ‘Passenger Charter’ in 2019. The charter derives its powers from the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Series M, Section 3. The new requirements seek to ensure appropriate protection for the air travelers in case of flight disruptions and, in particular, denied boarding, flight cancellations and delays without due notice to the passengers booked on the flight.
1. Flight Delays
A flight is said to have been delayed when the aircraft departs and/or arrives later than its scheduled time. As per the passenger charter, a passenger is liable to be compensated for flight delay, by virtue of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Series M, Section 3.
Paragraph 3.4.1 of the requirements mandate the airline to provide essential facilities; 1) Meals and refreshments; 2) hotel accommodation when necessary to the passengers in case of a delay. Provided that the passenger checked in on time and the flight is delayed by two hours or more.
If a domestic flight is delayed/or expected to be delayed by more than six hours, the passenger has the option to get a full refund or an alternate flight within a period of six hours.
A passenger has the right to free hotel accommodation in the following cases:
If the flight is delayed by more than 24 hours;
Or more than six hours for flights scheduled to depart between 20:00 and 03:00 hours.
Paragraph 3.4.4 provides that, in case of connecting flight booked on the same PNR, if the first flight is delayed due to airline’s fault (excluding force majeure), the airline shall offer the following compensation:
More than 3 hours: INR 5,000
Between 4 and 12 hours: INR 10,000
More than 12 hours: INR 20,000
It is essential to note that the burden of proof concerning the questions as to whether and when the passenger has been informed of the delay of the flight shall rest with the operating airline.
2. Flight Cancellation
In order to reduce the inconvenience caused to the passengers due to the cancellation of flights, the airliner is obligated to inform the passenger of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure.
In case passengers are informed of such cancellation less than two weeks before and up to 24 hours of the scheduled time of departure, the airliner is obliged to offer an alternate flight allowing the passenger to depart within two hours of their booked scheduled time or refund the ticket as acceptable to the passenger. Further, a compensatory amount ranging from INR 5000 to INR 10,000 is payable to the passenger depending upon the block time of the scheduled flight. These rights are in addition to the rights provided in case of flight delay.
If the passenger failed to provide adequate contact information in the form of an email id or a contact number.
Or if the cancellations occur due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the airline, even if all reasonable measures had been taken by the airline.
3. Boarding Denied Due to Over- Booking
Overbooking is when the number of passengers, who have been given confirmed bookings for a flight and have reported prior to the time of boarding into the aircraft, is more than the number of seats available. In such a case the airlines must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats, to make seats available for other passengers.
If the airline subsequently fails to arrange for an alternate flight scheduled to depart within one hour of the originally scheduled departure time, the passenger is liable to be compensated on the following basis:
Compensation equal to 200% of one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charges, subject to a maximum amount of INR 10,000, if the airline is able to arrange for a flight scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the scheduled departure time of the original flight.
Compensation equal to 400% of one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charges, subject to a maximum amount of INR 20,000, if the airline arranges for a flight scheduled to depart in more than 24 hours of the scheduled departure time of the original flight.
Refund of the full value of ticket and compensation up to 400% of one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charges, subject to a maximum amount of INR 20,000, if you do not opt for the alternate flight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Piyush Singh Phogat is a 5th-Year BBA LLB student at Gujarat National Law University.
Edited by: Arushi Gupta
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