Sunday, December 17, 2017

Airlines overbooked seats, denied boarding to nearly 2,000 passengers

New Delhi: Over 1,900 passengers travelling by domestic airlines in India were denied boarding in September-October this year, according to data furnished by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. According to aviation industry experts, most of these denials happen because of the global practice of overbooking of seats by the airlines in anticipation that some passengers will cancel their flights.

Jet Airways, along with its low cost carrier JetLite, tops the list of airlines that denied boarding to the maximum number of passengers in this particular period. It denied boarding to 1,571 passengers even though they had valid and confirmed tickets, while Air India denied boarding to 210 flyers.

Low cost carrier SpiceJet denied boarding to 107 people, even though they had valid tickets, while Indigo and Vistara denied boarding to one passenger each during the same period.

To handle this practice by the airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) already has the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), which is titled “Facilitation to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights”. As per CAR’s 2016 provisions, if boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the airline is required to arrange an alternative flight scheduled to depart within an hour of the original scheduled departure time of the initial reservation. Failing to do so, the airline shall compensate passengers as per the applicable provisions of CAR. However, passengers and aviation industry experts said that almost all airlines failed to comply with the rules and regulations of refund and compensation to affected passengers.

Akanksha Anshu, an aviation expert and co-founder and managing director of refund.me, told The Sunday Guardian that it is not easy to get refunds and compensation from airlines in case boarding is denied as people are mostly unaware of DGCA rules. “There is also a lack of seriousness to press for consumer rights in our country,” she said.

“The airline companies are very smart. The fact is that passengers are eligible for a compensation up to Rs 20,000 over and above the cost of the ticket, whether the airline provides an alternative flight or not within an hour of the scheduled departure of the original flight. It is also difficult for passengers to prove that they were denied boarding as the airlines don’t give any documentation for the same to passengers. Ideally, they should always provide a denied boarding certificate to the client.”
17/12/17 Dibyendu Mondal/Sunday Guardian

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