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Passengers who are denied seats in airlines even after a confirmed ticket have right to claim compensation: DGCA told HC

February 12, 2018

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the national carrier Air India has recently told the Delhi High court that the people who are denied seats in airlines due to overbooking despite having a confirmed ticket have the right to claim compensation in the consumer court or civil court.

The High court was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Pallav Mongia who was denied boarding by Air India on account of overbooking. Pallav has challenged the validity of paragraph 3.2 of Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) which permits overbooking of flights. 

Mr. Mongia claimed that he was scheduled to travel from Delhi to Patna on December 12, 2015, and had booked tickets with Air India well in advance. However, he was denied boarding despite having confirmed tickets. He further contended that the compensation payable to passengers who are denied boarding despite holding confirmed bookings has been restricted by the CAR. 

Mongia also highlighted how passengers have no redressal in cases where airlines close their check-in counters early, simply as means to facilitate the unfair ‘denied boarding’ practice. 

Responding to the petition the DGCA told the court that the passengers who even after having confirmed tickets are denied boarding have all the rights to claim compensation and the CAR does not restrict such passengers to claim further compensation so provided under the law. He further said that the rules also do not put any cap on the amount of compensation that can be claimed. 

As per the DGCA rules of 2010, in case of overbooking, an airline is required to first ask the passengers if any of them is willing to offer his/her seat. Subsequently, the airline has to offer them benefits and facilities. But if there are no volunteers willing to give up their seats, the compensation rule comes into play. A passenger denied boarding can claim a refund of the air ticket cost or alternate settlement amounting to the total ticket price. 

Apart from that, the passenger is also entitled to Rs 2,000 for flights with block time up to one hour, Rs 3,000 for flights with block time more than one hours, and Rs 4,000 to those more than two hours. It may be noted that block time is the total time from when a flight starts moving for take-off to the end of the journey.

As per a report of the Hindu as many as 12,957 passengers were denied flights between August 2016 and February 2017, due to overbooking. Airlines commonly overbook scheduled flights to reduce the possibility of planes departing with unoccupied seats as many a times passengers with confirmed bookings does not report for travel.


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