Airlines are engaging in the “unfair practice” of denying boarding to passengers who arrive at the airport on time, according to the Indian aviation regulator DGCA. In an e-mail sent on May 2, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) instructed all Indian carriers to provide compensation and services to customers who were denied boarding or faced financial penalties.
Sources alleged that Indian carriers have been overbooking their flights as COVID-19 cases are receding, and when the number of passengers exceeds the number of seats in the aircraft, the airlines do not take them on board.
The DGCA’s email said, “It has come to the notice of this office that various airlines are denying boarding to passengers holding confirmed tickets on a flight, although they have presented themselves for boarding within the time specified by the airline.”
This “practice is extremely unfair” to the passengers and brings a bad name to the aviation industry, it added.
To address such a situation, the DGCA had in 2010 issued a regulation that specified minimum compensation and facilities airlines must give to passengers who have been subjected to “denied boarding, cancellation or delay in flight”, it said.
The DGCA’s e-mail directed the airlines to comply with the 2010 regulation at the earliest opportunity available, preferably at the airport, if the passenger has reported on time.
“Any non-compliance of the provisions of the CAR (civil aviation requirement) will be viewed seriously, and strict action will be initiated against the erring airline, including imposing financial penalties as per regulations,” it mentioned.
The 2010 regulation of the DGCA states that when the number of passengers who have been given tickets for a flight and have reported at the airport for boarding the flight on time are more than the number of seats on a flight, the airline must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange of certain benefits.
However, in the absence of enough volunteers, the airline can evade giving any compensation if the affected passenger — who has been denied boarding as the original flight is overbooked — is given a ticket on an alternative flight that is departing within one hour of the original flight’s departure.
The airline has to give an amount equal to 200 per cent of basic fare plus fuel charge in case the alternate flight is scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the original flight’s departure.
The airline has to give an amount equal to 400 per cent of the basic fare plus fuel charge in case the alternate flight is scheduled to depart more than 24 hours after the original flight’s departure, as per the regulation.
In case the affected passenger does not opt for an alternate flight, a refund of the full value of the ticket and compensation, equal to 400 per cent of basic fare plus fuel charge, has to be given, the regulation said.