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Compensation For Flight Delay, Cancellation Or Denied Boarding

Are you aware of the "Facilities to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights"?

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), an attached office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has laid down certain guidelines in this regard.

These are detailed under the Civil Aviation Requirements Section 3, Series M, Part IV.

Discussed below are the salients aspects of the same.

Flight Delay
If you have checked-in on time, and the airline expects a delay beyond its original announced scheduled time of departure or a revised time of departure, you are entitled to meals and refreshments at the airport if the delay is 
- 2 hours or more for flights with duration up to 2.5 hrs
- 3 hours or more for flights with duration 2.5 to 5 hrs
- 4 hours or more for flights other than those mentioned above

For flights delayed by more than 24 hrs, the airlines have to also provide hotel accommodation (including transfers). The choice of hotel would be at the absolute discretion of the operating airline.

Of course, the airline has no obligation to compensate, if the delay is caused due to extraordinary circumstances.

Flight Cancellation
A. Airlines need to inform the passengers about flight cancellations at least 2 weeks before the scheduled time of departure. Plus, they have to arrange alternate flight or refund, as may be acceptable to the passenger.

B. If the passengers are informed of the cancellation less than 2 weeks and upto 24 hrs of the scheduled departure, airlines have to arrange alternate flight which enables the passenger to depart within 2 hours of the original departure.

Such alternate travel options have to be provided at no additional cost.

C. However, if you have not been informed about the cancellation of your flight as per the above timeline, the airlines have to 
(i) refund the ticket amount
(ii) pay compensation as under
- Flight duration upto 1-hr: Rs.5,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less 
- Flight duration 1-2 hrs: Rs.7,500 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less
- Flight duration more than 2 hrs: Rs.10,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less
(iii) and, also provide meals and refreshments if you have already reported at the airport for the original flight and are waiting for the alternate flight.

No compensation is payable...
... in case you don't accept alternate travel arrangements offered by the airline
... in case you have not provided adequate contact details at the time of booking the ticket (only the ticket amount will be refunded or 'try' for an alternate flight as per passenger's choice)
... if the flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the airline


Denied Boarding
Airlines often overbook flights for certain number of seats, so that they don't have to fly with some seats empty. Therefore, it can happen that sometimes more number of passengers actually turn up to board their 'booked' flight, as compared to the number of seats available.

Under such circumstances, the airline has no option but to deny boarding even though you are holding a confirmed ticket for the particular flight (and have reported at the airport well in advance of the time specified for the departure of the flight).

Now, either
a. You can voluntarily vacate your seats in exchange of the benefits / facilities which the airline may offer at its own discretion.
b. If you are denied boarding against your wish, the airline is liable to pay you a compensation.

Compensation for Denied Boarding
- No compensation: If the airline can arrange an alternate flight which is scheduled to depart within one hour of the original flight booked by you
- 200% of the basic one-way fare plus fuel charge (subject to a maximum of Rs.10,000): If the alternate flight arranged is scheduled to fly within 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure
- 400% of the basic one-way fare plus fuel charge (subject to a maximum of Rs.20,000): If the alternate flight arranged is scheduled to fly after more than 24 hours
- Refund of full value of ticket PLUS 400% of the basic one-way fare plus fuel charge (subject to a maximum of Rs.20,000) as compensation: If you don't opt for alternate flight
- Compensation as per above rules: If the connecting flight (whether of the same airline or another airline) arrives at the final destination three hours later than the scheduled arrival time

(Note: If the cost of your ticket is less than the amount of compensation, you will be entitled to an amount equivalent to the ticket cost in addition to refund of air ticket.)

Mode of compensation
The compensation will be paid via
- Cash, or
- Bank Transfer, or
- Travel Vouchers if there is signed agreement with the passenger

Force Majeure Circumstances
No compensation is payable on account of cancellations and delays caused due to extraordinary circumstance(s) beyond the control of the airline, such as:
- Natural disaster
- Civil war
- Political instability
- Security risks
- Insurrection or riot, flood, explosion, etc.
- Government regulation or order affecting the aircraf.
- Strikes and labour disputes causing cessation
- Meteorological conditions
- Cancellations and delays clearly attributable to Air Traffic Control (ATC)
- Slowdown or interruption of work or any other causes that are beyond the control of the airline but which affect their ability to operate flights on schedule

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