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India: Civil Aviation Ministry reports nearly 2,000 passengers were denied boarding

Nearly 2,000 air travellers in India were denied boarding during the months of September and October, according to data made available by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Aviation industry experts remark that most of these incidents happened because of the common practice of overbooking of seats. This is being done by airlines in anticipation that some travellers would cancel their flights.

Jet Airways and its low cost carrier JetLite, gained the notorious distinction of topping the list of airlines that denied boarding to the most number of passengers during this particular period. It denied boarding to 1,571 passengers even though these people had valid and confirmed tickets. Air India meanwhile, denied boarding to 210 flyers.

Low cost carrier SpiceJet denied boarding to 107 people while Indigo and Vistara denied boarding to one passenger each during the said months.

To deal with this practice by the airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) already has the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), called “Facilitation to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights.”

According to the CAR provisions, if boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the airline is mandated to arrange for an alternative flight scheduled to depart within an hour of the original scheduled departure time of the initial reservation.

If they do not, the airline should compensate passengers as per the applicable provisions of CAR. However, passengers and aviation industry experts relate that nearly all airlines do not comply with the said regulations of refund and compensation for affected passengers.

Akanksha Anshu, an aviation expert and co-founder and Managing Director of refund.me, commented that it is not easy to get refunds from carriers in these cases as most people are not actually aware of the DGCA regulations.

“There is also a lack of seriousness to press for consumer rights in our country,” she disclosed.

“The airline companies are very smart. The fact is that passengers are eligible for a compensation up to Rs 20,000 over and above the cost of the ticket, whether the airline provides an alternative flight or not within an hour of the scheduled departure of the original flight.

“It is also difficult for passengers to prove that they were denied boarding as the airlines don’t give any documentation for the same to passengers. Ideally, they should always provide a denied boarding certificate to the client.”

“Moreover, the new ticket is also issued on the same PNR so that there is no scope left for the passenger to fight. Also, passengers usually do not want to engage in a legal battle with the airlines as it is a time consuming and costly affair. Hence, the airlines get away with such offences easily, profiteering from the ignorance of consumers,” Anshu added.

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