In a piece of good news for all domestic air travellers, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has proposed to abolish the high cancellation fee levied by airlines. From August this year, passengers will get a full refund if a flight cancellation is made within 24 hours of booking. However, the rule will be applicable only if the ticket booked is for a flight scheduled later than 96 hours from booking.

The proposal is part of a charter of passenger rights prepared by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Addressing the media on Tuesday, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha notified the draft charter for public consultation.

At present, the cancellation fee charged by different airlines range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per traveller per sector on domestic routes.

The charter proposes that airlines should prominently print the cancellation fee on the ticket — “in a minimum font size of 12 and not as fine print”. This information also needs to be provided as part of the reservation and ticket documentation.

The charter says airlines and their agents — including online portals such as Makemytrip, Yatra and Cleartrip —should not, under any circumstances, levy a cancellation fee exceeding the basic fare plus fuel surcharge.

If a passenger is informed of a flight cancellation less than two weeks before and up to 24 hours of the scheduled departure time, the airline must offer an alternate flight allowing the passenger to depart within two hours of the booked scheduled departure time or refund the ticket, as acceptable to the passenger, says the proposed charter.

In case the passenger is not informed up to 24 hours of the scheduled departure time, the airlines must refund the full value of the air ticket.

According to the proposed charter, passengers can also make name corrections — up to three characters — within 24 hours of booking without any additional charge.

All the rights notified on Tuesday are over and above the existing ones. “The consultation process or public consultation will be open for 30 days from today and we expect to notify changes in two months. We will actively seek inputs from all stakeholders,” Sinha said.

Following are the initiatives proposed in the charter:

DELAYS

Airlines will offer an option of full refund to passengers if their flight is expected to be delayed for more than four hours from the published scheduled departure time, or previously revised departure time (communicated more than 24 hours prior to the original departure time).

Passengers will be offered free-of-charge hotel accommodation (including transfers) when delay is more than 24 hours from the published scheduled time of departure

Compensation for missing connecting flights:

Rs 5,000: Delay of more than 3 hours

Rs 10,000: Delay between 4 and 12 hours

Rs 20,000: Delay of more than 12 hours

Sufficient and free-of-charge hot snacks and beverages are to be provided to the passengers if their flight is stationed on the tarmac for more than 60 minutes

Passengers must be de-boarded if the flight is stationed on the tarmac for more than 90 minutes and there is no possibility of departure in next 30 minutes

COMPENSATION

If a passenger dies or suffers bodily injuries onboard an aircraft, the amount of liability to be paid by the airline must be same for both international and domestic passengers

In case of lost, delayed, or damaged baggage, the ceiling of liability has to be the same for both international and domestic passengers. The minimum compensation will be Rs 3,000 per kg for loss of baggage, Rs 1,000 per kg for delay and Rs 1,000 per kg for damage to baggage.

Sinha said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) could look into issues where the airlines were not in agreement with the passenger on the compensation issue.

FACILITIES

* No charge can be levied for selecting seats designated for persons with disabilities. These seats will remain blocked until close to the time of departure.

All airports must ensure availability of a medical doctor at all hours. There should be ambulance, minimum medical support (including oxygen cylinders and defibrillators), trained medical personnel, and standard operating procedures should be followed to care for medical emergencies for both inbound and outbound passengers.

Meet-and-greet facilities for all passengers.

Toilets outside departure and arrival terminals.

Minimum one Helpdesk for passengers.

Passengers must get 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi services

Affordable F&B outlets