Airlines frequently overbook to compensate for cancellations and no show passengers. But if any passenger has been denied boarding despite arriving in time, the rules mandate that certain compensation be paid to the passenger. In 2017-18, as per government data, more than 28000 passengers have been denied boarding.
Airlines frequently overbook (more than the capacity of the aircraft) to compensate for cancellations & no show passengers so that flights do not depart with unoccupied or empty seats. This also results in certain passengers being denied boarding despite arriving in time. The Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) detail out the facilities to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights. Here is what a passenger is entitled to.
What does ‘Denied Boarding’ mean?
The Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) have various sections and each section has multiple series and parts. Section-3, Series-M Part-VI of the CAR is about the ‘Facilities to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights‘. These have been recently amended in 2016.
As per these rules, denied boarding is defined as ‘refusal to carry a passenger holding confirmed ticket on a flight although he/she has presented himself/herself for boarding within the time specified by the airline, except where there are reasonable grounds to refuse carriage such as reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation’.
What can a passenger do if he/she is denied boarding?
The rules specify the process to be followed if the number of passengers who have reported for the flight within the time is more than the number of seats available. According to these rules, the airlines must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats to make them available for others in exchange for benefits/facilities that the airline may offer.
Further, if the boarding is denied against the will of the passenger, the airline will not be liable to pay any compensation if an alternate flight is arranged that is scheduled to depart within one hour of the original schedule departure time of the initial reservation. For any delay exceeding this, the airline is liable to pay compensation as below.
- An amount equal to 200% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of Rs 10,000, in case airline arranges alternate flight that is scheduled to depart within the 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure.
- An amount equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of Rs 20,000, in case airline arranges alternate flight that is scheduled to depart more than 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure.
- In case passenger does not opt for alternate flight, refund of full value of ticket and compensation equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of Rs 20,000.
The rules also define the process if the passenger has a connecting flight on the same or different airline.
More than 28000 denied boarding in 2017-18
As per DGCA data, more than 28000 passengers were denied boarding in 2017-18 and they were paid a total of Rs 24.53 crore in compensation. More than 2000 passengers each were denied boarding in six months while less than 2000 passengers each were denied boarding during the other six months.
More than 70% of those who were denied boarding were passengers of Jet Airways. SpiceJet accounted for 19% of such passengers while Air India reported 9% such passengers. Together, these three airlines accounted for 99% of the passengers who were denied boarding.