ASIAN AGE Wednesday 23rd May 2018
New passenger-friendly air travel rules
Free cancellation in 24 hrs, airlines to pay for delays, lost baggage.
New Delhi: The government on Tuesday proposed draft rules for the benefit of passengers that includes a provision for them to be given a “lock-in option for 24 hours” from time of purchase of ticket wherein they can cancel or amend tickets with the airline without any cancellation charges. This is provided the booking was made at least 96 hours before the time of departure.
According to the draft rules, passengers will also be compensated for flight delays in case they have missed connecting flights. In such cases, if the delay is over three hours, or between four to 12 hours or more than 12 hours, passengers are entitled to compensation of Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively. The draft rules further stipulate that airlines cannot levy cancellation fees that total more than the basic fare plus fuel surcharge.
Also, if the aircraft is on the tarmac for more than one hour, “sufficient and free-of-charge hot snacks and beverages” are to be provided to passengers. But if the aircraft is on the tarmac for 90 minutes with no possibility of departure in the next 30 minutes after that, passengers have to be de-boarded. The draft rules also state that if the flight delay is communicated more than 24 hours prior to the original scheduled time and if the delay is more than four hours, the airlines will have to offer an option of full refund of the ticket amount to passengers. If the delay is such that the flight will take off only the next day, airlines have to offer “additional free-of-charge hotel accommodation” to passengers.
The draft rules also direct that if a passenger is informed about flight cancellation between two weeks and 24 hours of the departure time, the airline has to offer an alternate flight allowing the passenger to depart within two hours of the booked scheduled departure time or else refund the ticket amount, whichever is acceptable to the passenger. In case the passenger is informed about the flight cancellation less than 24 hours of departure time, the airlines has to refund the full value of the air ticket.
According to the draft rules, the minimum compensation for loss of baggage will be `3,000 per kg while it will be `1,000 per kg for either delayed or damaged baggage.
Cancellation charges also have to be printed prominently on the ticket in a minimum font size of 12. Airlines also cannot levy any additional charges for correction in the name of the person on the ticket when name correction is required upto three characters only, and when the error in the spelling of the name is pointed out by the passenger to the airline within 24 hours of the booking.
The draft rules also state both domestic and international airlines have been allowed to offer Internet services and mobile services on board.
The proposed rules also stipulate that airlines should block seats with adequate leg space for persons with disabilities and these should remain blocked till close to the time of departure.
The draft rules also cover the proposed “digi-yatra” scheme of the government, under which passengers can exercise the option of electronic identification at airports using their Aadhaar card number for a seamless travel experience.
The draft rules will be finalized after getting responses from the stakeholders.