New rules bar fee for cancelling air tickets

Flyers can now cancel air tickets or change bookings for free within a day of making the reservation if the travel date is at least a week away, as per a government charter of passenger rights released on Wednesday.

The charter, announced by civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu after nine months of consultation with airlines, provides flyers with a slew of rights by getting airlines to improve their customer service.

If airlines fail to inform passengers about flight cancellations at least a day in advance, the carriers have to refund the ticket cost in full or provide alternative flights suitable to the passenger.

Further, they have to provide compensation of Rs 5,000- Rs 10,000 depending on the travel time or one-way base fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less.

If the airline informs passengers about cancellations at least a day in advance, it has to offer alternative flights or refunds according to the traveller’s preference.

At the time of booking, the airline must clearly indicate the amount of refund money that will be given to the passenger in case of cancellation, the charter states. When a flight is delayed by over six hours, airlines have to offer alternative flights or full refund.

Carriers have to inform passengers of such delays 24 hours in advance. They have to provide free hotel accommodation for a delay of 24 hours or more from the departure time communicated a day ago or a six-hour delay if the scheduled departure was between 8 pm and 3 am.

The charter also requires airlines to meet transportation expenses when a passenger is informed of a change in airport or terminal without a six-hour notice.