Airlines Liable To Compensate If Passengers With Confirmed Tickets Are Denied Boarding Due To Over-Booking: DGCA
February 13th, 2018
The country’s aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and national carrier Air India have told the Delhi high court that passengers with confirmed tickets have the right to seek compensation from the airlines if they are denied boarding due to over-booking. This compensation would be different from rules of airline companies to provide slab-wise refund.
Both the national carrier and DGCA were replying to a petition filed by a lawyer questioning the 2010 DGCA rules that recognize the concept of over-booking by airlines.
While hearing the petition Justice Vibhu Bakhru challenged the DGCA rules and said that the aviation regulator is aware of the practice. He also added that these rules cannot be interpreted as a green signal from the authority to airlines. “And, it certainly cannot mean that such practice has the sanction of law,” said Justice Bakhru.
The clause in the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) issued by the DGCA lays down a procedure which has to be followed by the airlines to compensate passengers denied boarding with confirmed booking due to overbooking of seats.
Flights are commonly overbooked by the airlines to reduce the possibility of planes scheduled for departing taking off with unoccupied seats as many a times passengers with confirmed bookings do not report for travel. It is a common issue that has persisted over the years, but customers are often confused on the available legal options to claim compensation. The DGCA 2010 rules do not put any cap on the compensation that can be demanded by a passenger from concerned airlines, as he/she has the full right to claim compensation. However, after the following clarification, passengers denied by airlines have a guaranteed shot of being paid with immediate compensation and necessary arrangements for their travel are made by the airline concerned.
What to do when a confirmed flight is canceled by airlines due to over-booking?
2,879 passengers were denied boarding by domestic airlines in the month December 2017. Another report on The Hindu states that airlines have denied as many as 12,957 passengers from boarding between August 2016 and February 2017, and recent reports do not indicate any change in the scenario.
As per DGCA guidelines, a customer must know his or her rights in order to claim compensation. DGCA regulation indicates clearly that passengers denied flights due to overbooking are bound to get compensation, which mostly includes alternative arrangements, refund of fares and/or monetary compensation for the inconvenience caused. Some airlines offer alternative flights to passengers.
The DGCA rule indicates that an airline has to first ask if some passenger is willing to give up his/her seat in case of overbooking. Subsequently, benefits and facilities have to be offered by the airline. In case there are no volunteers willing to give up their seats, the compensation rule comes into play. A refund of the air ticket cost or alternate settlement amounting to the total ticket price can be claimed by the passenger who is denied boarding. However, one of the best ways to avoid being denied flight due to overbooking is reporting to the airport on time, especially during peak hours.