The Indian Airlines scene is not what many could call a ‘pleasant’ experience. Overbooking, last minute cancellations and delays, seem to be the order of the day. These 3 things sometimes consume more time than the actual air travel time.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reported earlier last year (precisely July, 2015) the sorry state of domestic fliers. The overall cancellation rate was 0.83 per cent for domestic airlines and as high as 1.85 per cent in case of state run Air India.
Air India and Jet Airways have a record of flight cancellations which affects thousands of passengers every year, for which Air India compensated Rs.13 crores during 2014-15 and Jet Airways paid around Rs.3 crores. Though these look like huge amounts paid, most of the per person compensations have not crossed Rs. 4000 for denial and cancellation of the flight.
When it comes to delays, Air India aces the list for more than 2 hours delay and affected almost 4.5 lakh passengers and IndiGo wasn’t behind much, more than 2 lakh passengers were affected. Many frequent fliers are frustrated with the constant unprofessionalism of the Indian Air carrier.
The flier’s grievance has reached the DGCA and they have now decided to do away with the unprofessionalism. As per the newly passed rules, airlines may have to pay up to Rs. 10,000 to the passenger in case of cancelling or delaying the flight beyond 2 hours. The compensation they will have to pay in case they deny boarding will stand at Rs.20,000.
Starting this August 1st, these new reforms will be effective on all the domestic airlines.
Also DGCA included that airlines will have to pay Rs.5000 or booked one way basic fare plus fuel charge additionally apart from the refund amount, whichever is less for cancellation and delays having a block time (block time refers to the time the aircraft pushes back from it’s departure gate till the arrival gate) of one hour.
If the cancellation and delay is more than an hour but less than 2 hours, the airlines will have to pay Rs.7500 and for more than 2 hours delay, the airlines will have to pay around Rs.10,000.
But however the founder and president of Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), D Sudhakara Reddy points out at some dreary loopholes which have to be addressed. He said, “We have strong objection to certain issues. The operating airline would not have the obligation to pay compensation in the situations which are beyond the control of the airline including political instability and delays on the part of air traffic control (ATC), among others. How can the ATC delays be a reason for compensation and this leaves the decision in a grey area and will lead to many disputes. It is also not transparent”
When it comes to denial of boarding, the airline will have to pay a sum which is 200 per cent of the booked one way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, upper limit being Rs.20,000, if the airline arranges another flight to schedule a departure within 24 hours. The compensation is 400 times the basic fare, if the alternate flight is scheduled to depart beyond 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure.
Somewhere down the line, airlines must realize that unprofessionalism is highly dejected. Hospitality comes after professionalism and it’s important to note that time is a commodity too and can’t be wasted. Indian domestic air travel is plagued by unprofessionalism, we just hope the new norms will fix the problem.