New Rules for Air Tickets Downgrading Compensation

The DGCA is in the process of developing new rules for air ticket downgrading compensation as well as amending existing rules to protect the rights of air travellers who have had their tickets downgraded, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

New Rules for Air Tickets Downgrading Compensation DGCA

As a result of the rapid expansion of air services within India and on international routes to/from India, as well as the rise in the volume of passenger traffic, it has been observed that airlines occasionally downgrade passengers.

For instance, a passenger may be downgraded to a lower class at check-in if they originally purchased a ticket for first class, business class, or premium economy. This may happen for a number of reasons, such as unusable seats, a change in aircraft, overbooking, etc.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is in the process of amending its Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) Section-3, Series M Part IV “Facilities to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights, and delays in flights.” This amendment is being made to protect the rights of air travellers whose tickets have been downgraded.

As a result of this amendment, a passenger who is involuntarily downgraded from the class of ticket for which he or she was originally booked will be eligible to receive a refund from the airline for the full value of the ticket, including taxes, and the airline will carry the passenger at no additional cost in the next available class.

Nevertheless, this proposal will be subjected to consultation with relevant stakeholders, and after that, the final regulation will be published and put into effect.

The following existing provisions, which are specified in CAR, that provide compensation to air travellers in such circumstances have not yet been modified:

ScenarioExisting Compensation
Denied Boarding:
If airline has done overbooking in a flight:Airline to ask for volunteers in exchange of benefits.
If airline has denied boarding to a passenger against confirmed bookings for travel on the flight:No compensation if airline arranges alternate flight within 1 hr of original departure.
If airline has denied boarding to a passenger against confirmed bookings for travel on the flight:i) If alternate flight is within 24hrs of original departure, the Compensation will be equivalent to 200% of one way fare + fuel charge (Maximum Rs 10,000);
ii) If alternate flight is after 24hrs of original departure, the Compensation equivalent to 400% of one way fare + fuel charge (Maximum Rs 20,000); and
iii) In case passenger does not opt for alternate flight, then compensation will be full refund and 400% of one way fare + fuel charge (Maximum Rs 20,000)
Flight Cancellation (No obligation in case of force majeure event):
If airline expects cancellation of flight:Airline to inform & arrange alternate flight at least two weeks in advance
If airline cancels a flight in less than two weeks before and up to 24hrs of booked flight:Airline to arrange alternate flight within 2 hrs of original departure or refund the ticket.
If airline cancels a flight in less than 24 hrs of booked flight:Airlines to refund the air ticket and provide compensation as follows:
i) Block time less than 1 hour: One way fare + Fuel charge (Maximum Rs 5,000)
ii) Block time above one hour but below 2 hours: One way fare + Fuel charge (Maximum Rs 7,500)
iii) Block time above 2 hours: One way fare + Fuel charge (Maximum Rs 10,000)

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