India will revise the rules to compensate passengers who are downgraded on flights.

Passengers in India who find themselves in the frustrating predicament of being downgraded from one cabin to another might soon receive fair compensation.

The airline industry’s regulatory body, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has declared that it will establish standards to provide compensation to a passenger whose flying ticket has been involuntarily downgraded from one cabin to another by an airline. The decision was made as complaints about airlines unintentionally downgrading tickets sent to passengers grew. 

According to the DGCA, rules will be established to pay compensation to a passenger whose flight ticket was involuntarily demoted from one cabin to another by an airline.

The Economic Times reports that the action follows multiple passenger complaints that airlines were forcing them to travel economy class even though they had tickets for a premium seat. It’s important to note that the only two Indian airlines that provide premium cabins are Air India and Vistara.

Air India now only offers business class seats, although Vistara also offers premium economy (except for the newly acquired 777, which features premium economy).

DGCA is seeking to amend the law so that in the event of an airline denial of boarding, an unscheduled flight cancellation, or an unjustified downgrade, the rights of the passengers come first. A passenger may request a complete refund from the airline after the rules have been set.

A passenger may request a complete refund if there has been an unscheduled flight cancellation, or an unjustified downgrade: DGCA

“The amendment will allow the passenger, who is downgraded involuntarily from his booked class of ticket, to receive the full value of the ticket including taxes as a refund from the airline and the airline will carry the passenger free of cost in the next available class.”

–DGCA Statement

However, there will be stakeholder consultation on the idea. The final regulation will then be published and put into effect after that.

“In order to cater to such situations, 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.”

–DGCA Statement

The most recent action was taken months after the DGCA warned Indian carriers not to sell tickets for seats that weren’t fit for usage during flights. It aimed to put an end to the practice of letting airlines off the hook for poor aircraft maintenance by not taking passenger comfort and safety into account.

DGCA warned Indian carriers not to sell tickets for seats that weren’t fit for usage during flights

According to DGCA regulations, airlines are not allowed to sell passenger seats that do not match standards since all materials, including the aeroplane seat, must adhere to approved design criteria.

The authorities’ statement further stated that the installation of any component that does not adhere to the authorised design specifications deteriorates the standards of airworthiness.

Even though there have been a number of similar events in the past, the one that started this uproar earlier this year was an Air India flight from New Delhi (DEL) to London (LHR) that experienced a lengthy delay and disruption with seat assignments because certain seats weren’t “working.”

Prior to the Tata Group’s acquisition of Air India, the airline had issues with cracked seats and shoddy interiors. The new owners are doing everything they can to repair the planes so they can compete with some of the greatest in the world.

(With inputs from ET)

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