19 January 2009

Airlines bound to care for passengers during delays


Fog over north India has led to long delays in flights and much inconvenience to passengers in recent times. Consumers at the domestic and international airport complain of long waiting periods, no information on flights and sometimes, even non-availability of water at the airport.

According to the new civil aviation requirements (CAR) issued by the director general of civil aviation (DGCA), passengers stranded at airports are entitled to an array of facilities. For example, the CAR says that where passengers are stranded, they should be provided with meals, beverages, communication facilities and hotel rooms for the night, if necessary. The airline is also liable to meet the special needs of persons with reduced mobility and those accompanying them. If a passenger who reports to the airline counter in time is denied boarding, the passenger should be offered compensation and full assistance to his destination.

In case of over-booking, the airline can invite some passengers to give up their seats for benefits, which are intimated in advance, which should be a minimum of Rs12,000 for international flights and Rs6,000 for domestic flights. The passenger would then also be entitled to a refund or a free flight to his original point of destination. Offloaded passengers would be entitled to free meals, hotel accommodation and communication facilities. In case of delay in flights two to three hours long, the airline must serve meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation with transfers if necessary and free communication facilities. If the flight is delayed by more than five hours, the consumer must be given the choice of taking a full refund on his ticket, with an additional offer to fly the passenger back to his destination, free of cost. However, the implementation at the ground level is not up to the mark.

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