In a recent update from Delhi Airport's Flight Information Display System (FIDS), it has been reported that 120 flights, both domestic and international, faced delays on Wednesday due to dense fog. Additionally, 53 flights, including 21 domestic arrivals, 16 domestic departures, 13 international departures, and 3 international arrivals, were canceled, leaving passengers stranded.
Passengers, who already pay a considerable sum for air travel within India, especially on routes like Delhi to Goa or Delhi to Bombay, found themselves grappling with unexpected turbulence in their travel plans.
The Ministry for Civil Aviation has now introduced a clear-cut protocol and standard operating procedure for airlines to follow, aiming to address passenger concerns amid flight disruptions.
Private Airlines' Accountability in Question
Critics argue that private airlines in India often prioritize profit over passenger convenience. The issue of cancellation fees and the lack of compensation for delays due to factors beyond the airline's control, such as natural calamities like fog, has sparked widespread frustration among travelers.
Passengers are urged to carefully scrutinize ticket bookings, particularly regarding refund policies and cancellation fees. While airlines like IndiGo may excel in punctuality under normal circumstances, the recent chaos at Delhi Airport raises questions about their commitment to passenger interests during challenging times.
War Room Initiative & Passenger Communication
In response to the outcry, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotida Sidhya has initiated a war room at major metro airports to address passenger requirements. Clear communication during flight delays and cancellations has become a priority, as passengers demand transparency and accountability from airlines.
As frustrations grow, there are calls for a mass information campaign led by the civil aviation minister to educate passengers on their rights and how to hold airlines accountable. The recent surge in air travel post-Covid further emphasizes the need for private airlines to acknowledge the increased demand for accountability.
While condemning any violence towards airline crew members, there is a growing need to balance consumer awareness with the responsibilities of private airlines. As the Indian economy shows signs of recovery, it becomes crucial for airlines to appreciate the reality that passengers, now more than ever, demand greater accountability in the face of unforeseen disruptions.
In a disturbing incident, a man faced arrest and subsequent release on bail after being accused of assaulting an IndiGo co-pilot. The assault occurred during a Sunday flight that experienced a frustrating delay exceeding 10 hours. A viral video captured the passenger lunging at the co-pilot during an announcement on the plane.
Adding to the chaos, another video depicted passengers stranded on the tarmac at Mumbai airport, munching on food. The flight, en route from Goa to Delhi, had been diverted after prolonged delays.
Navigating Flight Turbulence: Your Essential Guide to Air Travel Rules and Rights
1. CANCELLATION GUIDELINES
Notification Standards: Airlines must inform passengers 24 hours prior to the scheduled departure if a flight is canceled, or compensation ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 applies.
Connecting Flight Impact: The same compensation rules extend to passengers missing connecting flights due to the cancellation of the initial leg.
2. DELAY PROVISIONS
Refreshments Based on 'Block Time': Carriers must offer meals for delays depending on the flight's 'block time.'
Advance Notice for Extended Delays: Delays exceeding 6 hours require airlines to notify passengers 24 hours before departure, providing options for a refund or an alternative flight.
Late-Night Delay Accommodation: For delays over 6 hours, especially those scheduled between 8 pm and 3 am, airlines must provide free accommodation.
3. REFUND POLICIES
Exclusion for Extraordinary Circumstances: Airlines are not obligated to compensate passengers for disruptions caused by factors like natural disasters, civil wars, or Air Traffic Control issues.
Refund Processing: Airlines should refund card payments within seven days under normal circumstances. If purchased through third parties, refunds are the airline's responsibility within 30 working days.
Claim Window: Passengers must initiate refund claims within one month of the incident, with the discretion to credit the refunded amount to the airline's wallet left to the passenger.