An aircraft operated by IndiGo, a unit of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Draft Plan Says No Cancellation Fee For Flights Cancelled Within 24 Hours

Air travellers won’t have to pay a cancellation fee if they cancel tickets within 24 hours of booking. At least that’s the plan.

The draft Air Passenger Charter proposes a lock-in period of 24 hours from cancellation charges, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Twitter. Provided, the cancellation is done more than four days before the flight departure date, he said. Also, there will be no charges for correction of up to three characters in the name of the passenger within 24 hours of booking, he tweeted.

Cancellation charges should not be more than basic fare and fuel surcharge, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told reporters earlier. “If a flight is cancelled and it is the airline’s fault, then the passenger has to be compensated or ticket has to be refunded,” he said. “If a flight is delayed, the passenger will be compensated in various ways.”

Airlines will also have to refund the entire ticket amount to passengers if a flight is delayed for more than four hours, as per the draft plan. If the flight is delayed by a day, the airline should offer additional free-of-charge hotel accommodation.

The draft charter, which aims to strengthen passenger rights and make travel more convenient, will be put in public domain for feedback.

Besides flight delays and cancellations, other key issues addressed in the charter include lost or damaged baggage, and facilities for persons with disabilities, among others.

The key highlights are:

  • No charge if tickets cancelled within 24 hours of booking.
  • Flyers will be compensated if airlines are at fault.
  • Passengers to be compensated by up to Rs 20,000 (depending on the delay) for flight delays which lead to onward flights being missed.
  • Cancellation charges cannot be higher than base fare + fuel charges.
  • No charges if tickets cancelled 96 hours before date of travel.
  • Airlines must provide alternate flights for late cancellations.
  • Aadhar not mandatory for Digiyatra identification.
  • On-board WiFi to be launched soon.
  • Special provisions for flyers with special needs.

The features will be rolled out in the next two months, Jayant Sinha said. The ministry is also working on transforming passenger experience through the Air Sewa app to address customer grievances timely.

The civil aviation ministry has finally paid heed to what passengers have been wanting, said former Executive Director of Air India Jitendra Bhargava. “The past has not been glorious for the aviation ministry because the airlines always had influence over them. This is the first time passengers’ interests are being taken care of,” he told BloombergQuint in an interaction.

Airlines will be the only stakeholders not welcoming these proposals. Because there is a cost effect on the industry.
Jitendra Bhargava, Former ED, Air India

There are, however, some proposals which are a “little impractical” and would face some hurdles, he said. “Does the ministry have enough manpower to honour these proposals? The answer is no.”

Earlier this month, Telecom Commission allowed WiFi and in-flight voice calling, with Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu saying he will ensure “earliest implementation”.