How to get money back for flights cancelled during lockdown: All you need to know

The guidelines came after the Supreme Court directed that a full and immediate refund should be given for air tickets cancelled between March 25 and May 24.
Flight tickets
Flight tickets
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Aviation regulator DGCA issued detailed guidelines on Wednesday regarding a refund of the ticket price for the flights cancelled amid the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

The guidelines came six days after the Supreme Court directed that a full and immediate refund should be given to passengers for the air tickets cancelled between March 25 and May 24. No domestic passenger flights operated in the country in this period.

The top court had, on October 1, also passed directions about the refund and credit shell formation for the bookings and cancellations done during the other time periods around the lockdown.

Based on the court order, the DGCA categorised passengers in three categories -- those who booked tickets between March 25 and May 24 for travelling within the same period, those who booked tickets prior to March 25 but the travel period was till May 24, those who booked tickets anytime but for a journey post May 24.

The regulator said the passengers belonging to the first category must be given a full refund by the airline concerned for the tickets cancelled.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the airlines should "make all endeavours" to refund the passengers belonging to the second category within 15 days.

"If on account of financial stress, any airline/airlines are not able to do so, they shall provide a credit shell equal to the amount of fare collected (to the passenger)," it added

The passengers can then use the credit shells to book any ticket by March 31, 2021, the DGCA noted.

If tickets have been booked through a travel agent, full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately to the respective travel agent, who then shall pass it on immediately to the passengers.

This applies to international travel as well. 

For the second category, DGCA has asked airlines to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days from October 7, or a credit shell, if they’re facing financial distress. 

“It is on the passenger either to utilize such credit shell up to 31 March, 2021 on any of his choice or the passenger can transfer the credit shell to any person including the travel agent through whom he/she has booked the ticket and the airlines should honour such a transfer,” DGCA said.

For international travel, the airline or travel agent shall make full refund to the passenger within three weeks from the date of Judgement of Supreme Court. 

Those belonging to the third category will be given a refund in accordance with the existing DGCA rules.

In all cases where credit shell is issued, the value of this credit shell will by 0.5% of the amount a passenger paid for the tickets every month till June 30, and then it shall be enhanced by 0.75% of the value per month up to March 31, 2021.

The Indian aviation industry has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, all airlines in the country have opted for cost-cutting measures such as layoffs, leave without pay for the employees etc.

Scheduled domestic passenger flight services resumed in the country after a gap of two months on May 25. Currently, airlines are permitted to operate only up to 60 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in the country since March 23. However, special international passenger flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission since May and under air bubble arrangements formed with various countries since July.

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