In early 2020, Lal Bahadur Singh had booked 11 air tickets – some for Bagdogra and some for Bhopal – for holidays at different times of the year. All his travel plans got cancelled with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March. Since then, Singh is awaiting his ticket refunds of up to ₹1 lakh from various airlines.
One year on, passengers like Singh continue to negotiate with airlines on refunds after travellers had to forego their plans as Covid-19 cases spread across the country and flights were stalled.
This comes after the Supreme Court (SC) in September 2020 directed airlines to provide immediate refund for tickets that were booked for travel up to May 24, 2020. Airlines were given time till March 31, 2021 to refund tickets affected due to lockdown. Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also had issued a notification on April 16 last year ordering immediate refund for tickets booked during lockdown (March 25-April 14).
As per DGCA’s monthly traffic report, refund-related issues continue to comprise a major chunk of complaints this year too. In January, ticket refunds formed 41.3% of the complaints. In December 2020, it was 61.4%, in November 62.4% and in October 83.9% passengers complained of refund issues to the regulator.