If you are someone who plans a trip keeping the weather in mind to avoid flight cancellations or delays, chances are it may not work. Flight cancellations and delays are not just limited to bad weather and air traffic.
On Monday, a Dubai-bound Air India Dreamliner's take-off was delayed due to stoppage of fuel supply by oil marketing companies. As per reports, the flight with 300 passengers took off from Kochi airport at around 1 pm instead of 9.15 am after civil aviation and petroleum ministers intervened.
In another recent instance, anti-government protests forced Air India to announce the suspension of all its flights to and from Hong Kong on Aug 13 'until further notice'. This came after over 200 flights were cancelled at Hong Kong airport on August 12 after the authorities, at a short notice, suspended flight operations due to pro-democracy protesters entering the terminal's arrival halls.
These instances prove that a passenger is always at the risk of flight cancellation or delay, irrespective of the weather. While the airlines usually assist the passengers in such cases — from providing a refund to alternative flights — one must know one’s rights in case of delays and cancellations to avoid any kind of hassle.
In case of flight cancellations:
The airline should inform the passenger about the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure and arrange an alternate flight or refund as acceptable to the passenger.
If a passenger is informed of the cancellation less than two weeks before and up to 24 hours of the scheduled time of departure, the airline shall offer an alternate flight or refund the ticket, as acceptable.Those who have not been informed as per the above provisions or missed the connecting flight on the same ticket, the airline shall either provide alternate flight as acceptable to the passenger or provide compensation in addition to the full refund. For compensation, the provisions are:
Rs 5,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less for flights having a block time of up to and including 01 hour. Rs 7,500 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less for flights having a block time of more than 01 hour and up to and including 02 hours. Rs 10,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less for flights having a block time of more than 02 hours.
In addition, the passengers should be given facilities including meals and refreshments if they have reported at the airport as per the schedule of the original flight.
However, you are not entitled to any compensation if you have not provided adequate contact information at the time of booking. Also, the airline is not required to pay any compensation to the affected passengers if the cancellation occurred due to extraordinary circumstances which are out of its control.
In case of delays:
The airline should provide meals and refreshments if the passenger has checked in on time and if a delay of less than 24 hours is expected from its original or revised time.
If the delay is for more than 24 hours, the passenger shall be given hotel accommodations with transfers. However, according to the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the choice of hotel is totally up to the discretion of the airline.
The airline, however, is not required to compensate the passenger if the delay has been caused due to extraordinary circumstances which are out of its control.
Overbooking a flight may lead to the airline denying boarding to some passengers even if they have confirmed bookings and have reported on time.
According to the civil aviation requirements (CARs), if the boarding is denied under such circumstances, the airline has to arrange an alternate flight which is scheduled to depart within one hour of the scheduled departure time of the original flight.If the airline fails to do this, it is liable to pay compensation as follows, as stated by the DGCA:
An amount equal to 200 percent of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of Rs 10,000, in case the airline arranges an alternate flight which is scheduled to depart within the 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure. An amount equal to 400 percent of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of Rs 20,000, in case the airline arranges an alternate flight that is scheduled to depart more than 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure. In case the passenger does not opt for an alternate flight, refund of the full value of the ticket and compensation equal to 400 percent of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of Rs 20,000.