Wrongful denial of boarding to flyers will now cost airlines dear

NEW DELHI: Denying boarding to passengers holding confirmed tickets who report to the airport well in time for their flight will now cost airlines dear. Ahead of the upcoming peak summer travel season, the DGCA warned all Indian carriers that violating rules in this regard will “be viewed seriously and strict action will be initiated” against erring airlines, including penalties as per regulations.
“It has come to the notice of this office that various airlines are denying boarding to passengers holding confirmed ticket on a flight although they have presented themselves for boarding within the time specified by the airline. This practice is extremely unfair and brings a bad name to aviation industry,” said a missive sent to all airline CEOs on Friday.
The regulator will from next week conduct surprise checks at airports to see if airlines are restoring to this malpractice of first overbooking and then denying boarding. “…Our surprise checks will take action on the spot if the same is found. We want to make passengers aware of what they are entitled to in case of wrongly being denied boarding because not everyone knows about these rights,” a senior official said.
The regulator had in 2010 put in place penalties that airlines are required to pay passengers wrongly denied boarding, and for sudden flight cancellations and long delays. In case of overbooking, airlines are first supposed to seek volunteers who may be okay with going on subsequent flights. No compensation needs to be paid if an alternate flight is arranged within an hour of the originally booked one, says the civil aviation requirement.
But if that is not the case, airlines are required to compensate passengers by paying “200% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to a maximum of Rs 10,000 in case the airline arranges an alternate flight that is scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure”.