How often have the steep flight cancellation charges imposed by airlines stopped you from availing the discounted early booking airfares? In fact, airlines have been steadily increasing ticket cancellation charges over the past year, currently ranging from Rs 2,950 to over Rs 4,000 for domestic flights. But, in an early Christmas present to flyers, the government is planning to ask airlines to prune such charges to a reasonable level.
"We believe cancellation charges are on the high side and onerous for passengers. The fee is in many cases more than the price of the ticket itself. Our UDAN (subsidised regional flying) scheme has capped fares at Rs 2,500 per hour of flying. These cancellation charges need to be brought back into balance," aviation minister Jayant Sinha told the Times of India.
Apart from ordering a review of the exorbitant cancellation penalty, Sinha is also reportedly working on a passenger bill of rights (PBOR) that will incorporate global best practices. "India has seen a doubling of air travellers in the last 3.5 years, a growth rate that has not been witnessed anywhere globally. Many are first-time flyers who need to be made aware of their rights and duties," he told the daily. The PBOR will, hence, serve as a ready reckoner for passengers and go a long way in protecting consumer rights.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has already mandated that airlines have to compensate flyers for denying boarding in cases of overbooking as well as for flight delays and cancellations. According to reports, between January and April this year, airlines have shelled out Rs 22 crore by way of passenger compensation for such inconveniences. Sinha's proposed bill of rights may also include compensation for deficiency in service. That's great news indeed for the growing number of air passengers in the country. In October alone 104.51 lakh passengers were ferried by domestic airlines.