In a big relief for passengers, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has slashed flight ticket cancellation charges and notified significant amendments to rules relating to refunds.
The aviation regulator has ordered that air ticket cancellation charges shall not exceed the basic fare and fuel surcharge charged by airlines on a particular route. The rules were notified on Wednesday and will be effective from August 1. At present, cancellation charges vary from Rs 1,500 to 100% fare of the ticket.
“The issue of refund of tickets by airlines has become a major source of grievance amongst airline passengers. While the government is committed to no interference in the commercial practices of the airlines, the volume of the complaints necessitates some affirmative action to safeguard the interest of the travelling public,” said the order issued by DGCA chief M Sathiyavathy.
“The matter has been discussed in several meetings with the airlines with no significant improvement in the system adopted by airlines for refund of tickets. It is, therefore, now considered necessary by government to fix some minimum bench marks, as far as the refund policy is concerned in order to stem the growing dissatisfaction among the passengers regarding the refund procedures adopted by some airlines,” the DGCA said.
“Airlines shall not levy any additional charge to process the refund. Airlines shall refund all statutory taxes and fees to passengers in case of cancellation, non-utilisation of tickets and no-show. This provision shall also be applicable for all types of fares offered including promos/special fares and where the basic fare is non-refundable,” Sathiyavathy said.
Airport operators, the DGCA has said, shall make appropriate provisions for ambulift at the airport “to enable persons with disability or reduced mobility to embark/disembark the aircraft without inconvenience. Airport where ambulift or aerobridge facility is not available, provision of towable ramp should be made”.
Airlines have been directed to indicate in an unambiguous manner the amount of refund of money admissible on cancellation of a ticket. In case of credit card payments, airlines will be required to refund the money within seven days of the cancellation. “In case of cash transactions, refund shall be made immediately by the airlines office from where the ticket was purchased.”
In case of purchase of ticket through travel agent or portal, the onus of refund shall lie with the airlines, the DGCA has said, as “agents are their appointed representatives”.
The option of holding the refund amount in credit shell by airlines shall be the prerogative of the passenger and not a default practice of the airline, the rule says. “Airline shall not levy any additional charge for correction in name of the same person, when error in his name spelling is pointed out by the passenger to the airline after booking of his ticket,” the DGCA said.