Pay less for flight ticket cancellations from August

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Air passengers have a reason to smile as the revised norms that caps ticket cancellation charges and bars airlines from levying additional amount for refund process are coming into force from 1 August.

“Cancellation amount not to exceed basic fare plus fuel surcharge; all statutory levies and taxes to be refunded under all circumstances,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Wednesday as he announced that the new cancellation norms for fare refund would become effective from 1 August.

Issuing the revised regulations, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also made it clear that airlines
cannot levy additional charge to process the refund.

The move would come as a relief to air passengers against the backdrop of many carriers hiking the cancellation charges in recent times.

The regulator said carriers should refund all statutory taxes and User Development Fee (UDF)/Airport Development Fee (ADF)/Passenger Service Fee (PSF) to the passengers in case of “cancellation/ non-utilisation of tickets/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,” DGCA noted.

The changes were first proposed by the Civil Aviation Ministry in June as part of putting in place passenger
friendly measures.

These norms would be effective from 1 August, according to the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) issued by DGCA chief M Sathiyavathy on Tuesday.

In a tweet, Raju said the process of refund would be completed within 30 days even when booked through travel
agents or online portals.

“Cancellation charges to be clearly displayed on every ticket. The policy to be prominently displayed on the website of the airline,” Raju said in another tweet.

No charges can now be levied by airlines for corrections in errors of names of the passengers, he added.

Separately, DGCA has also revised the rules with respect to persons with disability and reduced mobility whereby
airport operators should make provision for such people to embark or disembark from a flight without inconvenience.

Carriers would be required to indicate the refund amount in case of ticket cancellations.

The amount and its break-up may be indicated on the ticket itself or through separate form used for the purpose.
Also, the policy and amount of refund shall be displayed by the airlines on their respective websites, DGCA noted.

Further, passengers can choose whether the refund money should be kept in the airline’s credit shell or not.

“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 regulator said.

For tickets booked through travel agents or portal, the onus of refund would be on the airlines.

“In case of purchase of ticket through travel agent/portal, onus of refund shall lie with the airlines, as agents
are their appointed representatives. The airlines shall ensure that the refund process is completed within 30 working days,” the regulator said.

At present, in cases of ticket purchases from travel agents, the arrangement for refund is left to the passenger
and the travel agent.

“The option of holding the refund amount in credit shell by the airlines shall be the prerogative of the passenger and not a default practice of the airline,” it noted.

In the case of foreign carriers operating to and from India, the refund process would be in accordance with
regulations of their country of origin.

The latest CAR prescribes minimum requirements for refund of ticket purchased by persons with respect to air transport undertakings including scheduled and non-scheduled domestic operators as well as foreign carriers operating to/from India.

As per the revised the rules with respect to persons with disability and reduced mobility, airlines, upon advance
request, have to make provisions for carriage of stretchers and associated equipment for passengers who cannot use the standard airline seat in a sitting/reclining position.

“Such a request shall be made at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled departure of the flight. Airlines shall develop a procedure for making advance request of stretcher and the same should be displayed on airline’s website,” DGCA said.

Under the new norms, airport operators should make provision for ambulift at the aerodrome for people with
disability or reduced mobility to embark/disembark the aircraft without inconvenience.

“Such provision may be made in coordination with Ground Handling Agencies (GHAs), if required. Airport where ambulift or aerobridge facility is not available, provision of towable ramp should be made,” the revised CAR (Civil Aviation Requirments) in this regard said.

Further, the watchdog said the airport operator should ensure that persons with disability or reduced mobility are
transported “within the airport in the same condition, comfort and safety as those available for other passengers”.

DGCA also noted that airlines, airport operators, security, customs, and immigration bureau organisations at
airports should conduct training programme for personnel engaged in passenger services.

This is for “sensitisation and developing awareness for assisting persons with disability or reduced mobility and to ensure they are well briefed about their responsibilities,” it added.