In what could be a major relief for airline passengers, the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Monday released a Draft of Passenger Rights Charter. The charter was notified as available for public consultation. The Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, in a press meet held on Monday also mentioned about the other initiatives of the ministry - Digi Yatra and AirSewa app.
One of the key benefits in the proposed charter is that a full ticket amount refund is to be provided to the passenger, if the flight is delayed for more than four hours from the scheduled departure time. Also, for a 24 hour delay, the passenger is entitled to free-of-charge hotel accommodation, including transfers.
Regarding compensations, the highlights were that in case of loss, delay or damage of baggage, the minimum compensation would be Rs 3000 per kg for loss of baggage, Rs 1000 per kg for delay and Rs 1000 per kg for damage of baggage. This limit of liability to be paid by the airline appears to be same for both domestic and international passengers. Further the Draft also proposes compensation if passengers miss connecting flights due to delays and cancellations.
Another relief factor came in the form of the reforms in cancellation fees: Passengers will have a 'Lock-in Option' for 24 hours of booking ticket, during which they can cancel or amend the ticket without being charged additionally. Also, in circumstance of cancellation in case of name correction, airlines have been asked not to take any additional charge if the correction of name is for the same person and up to 3 characters only; same applies if the correction is pointed out within 24 hours of making the reservation.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu also tweeted in connection to the charter: â€ś#Passengercharter proposals- under no circumstance can the airlines or its agents, including the online booking agents charge cancellation charge more than the ticket amount. The taxes and levies have to be refunded.â€ť
The charter also listed out the facilities to be provided in flights and airports; one of the major points was â€śAirlines to have seats that are designated as acceptable for persons with disabilities free of charge, which will remain blocked until close to the time of departureâ€ť. Also, it necessitated that medical facilities be available in the form of medical doctor at all operational hours of the airport, ambulance and minimum medical support including oxygen cylinders and defibrillators.â€ť