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FAQs on Aviation Law

During international travel if a passenger loses his baggage and other valuables including passport, who is responsible to provide necessary justification at the destination for the passengers plight? What are the compensations the passenger is entitled for?

The airline will try to relocate the luggage if it is just lost or loaded in a different plane through their electronic luggage tracking system. If they are unable to locate the luggage then necessary help would be provided to the passenger to approach the embassy / consulate of his country to obtain a new passport.

Who will be held responsible for the loss of life and limb arising out of an air crash? Who will be responsible for releasing the compensation amount to the aggrieved family?

In the event of a air crash and consequent damages to life and property, the responsibility and cause of crash of an aircraft can only be derived after the submission of final report by the inquiry committee. However, the compensation for the loss of life and limb of the passengers would be released by the concerned airline. If the passenger had opted for additional third party insurance, the additional compensation amount would be provided over and above the compensation paid by the airlines.

What are the remedies available to an individual whose property has been damaged owing to an air crash? Is he entitled for compensation from the airliner?

Yes. Similar to motor cycles and Cars aircraft too are insured and any loss or damage arising out of air crash would be compensated by the insurance company with whom the airliner had insured its planes. In case of Military aircraft, the Govt of India will compensate the losses incurred due to the air crash after a thorough investigation into the incident.

If a passenger feels that the services provided by the airliner are not at par with the standards claimed by them in their advertisements, can the passenger claim compensation from the airliner?

Yes. If a passenger is not satisfied with the services offered by the airliner and considers the same to be inferior than the claims made by the airliner in its advertisements, the passenger can claim compensation from the airliner. The aggrieved passenger can lodge a written complaint with the service desk of the airline and his/her complaint will be processed by the airline and the claims of the passenger are found true, the airline may suitably compensate the passenger as per the airline policy. However, if the passenger is not satisfied with the compensation being offered by the airline, the passenger can approach the Consumer Forum and claim compensation for deficiency in services.

What are the facilities to be provided to the passengers by the airlines in the event of delay or cancelled flight?

Passengers shall be offered free of charge the following in the event of delay of flight over 2 hours or cancellation of a flight:

a) Meals and refreshments in relation to waiting time.

b) Hotel Accommodation when necessary (including transfers).

Can a passenger claim compensation if his/ her checked baggage is lost and could not be recovered after a reasonable amount of time?

Yes, if a baggage of a passenger is misplaced by the airline and could not be traced with in 21 days from the date of the complaint, then the luggage would be considered considered lost and the passenger would be entitled for compensation as per the compensation policy of the airlines. Further, if the passenger has taken any insurance policy which provides cover to his luggage also, then the passenger may also claim compensation from the insurance company also. However, the combined compensation from the airline and insurance agency must not exceed the value of the lost article.

Can a passenger claim compensation from the airlines if his / her flight is cancelled without prior intimation?

Airline shall inform the passenger of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure and arrange alternate flight/refund as acceptable to the passenger. In case the passengers are informed of the cancellation less than two weeks before and upto 24 hours of the scheduled time of departure, the airline shall offer alternate flight allowing them to depart within two hours of their booked scheduled time of departure. Passengers who have not been informed before 2 weeks, the airlines shall provide compensation in addition to the refund of air ticket in accordance with the following provisions:

a) INR 5,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less for flights having a block time of upto and including 01 hour

b) INR 7,500 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less for flights having block time of more than 01 hour and upto and including 02 hours.

c) INR 10,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less for flights having a block time of more than 02 hours.

Can a passenger claim compensation from the airlines if his/her flight is inordinately delayed beyond the schedule of arrival at the destination?

Yes. If the flight is delayed due to technical or some other issue which is within the control of the airlines then the passenger can claim compensation from the airline. However, if the delay is due to force majeure i.e cause of delay is beyond the control of the airline such as bad weather, not cleared for take off by the airport authorities etc., then the passenger will only be eligible for a full refund and not any additional compensation.

Can a passenger claim compensation from the airlines if he / she is not permitted to board the aircraft despite reporting on time to the airport?

Yes. A passenger if denied boarding despite being on time due to over booking by the airline can claim compensation from the airline. If the boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the airline shall not be liable for any compensation in case alternate flight is arranged that is scheduled to depart within one hour of the original schedule departure time of the initial reservation. Failing to do so, the airline shall compensate the passengers as per the following provisions:

a) An amount equal to 200% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of INR 10,000, in case airline arranges alternate flight that is scheduled to depart within the 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure.

b) An amount equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of INR 20,000, in case airline arranges alternate flight that is scheduled to depart more than 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure.

c) In case passenger does not opt for alternate flight, refund of full value of ticket and compensation equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of INR 20,000.

What are the circumstances under which a passenger can be denied boarding by an airline?

The aircrew of the airlines may deny boarding to a passenger on the following circumstances :

a) If the e passenger is in a state of intoxication which may disturb other passengers in the flight, the check in staff can deny a boarding to a passenger and report the matter.

b) If a passenger misbehaves with other passengers or with the crew and if the commander of the flight decides that allowing the passenger to fly can endanger the safety of other passengers or crew, he can offload (send back from the plane) the passenger.

c) Passenger who are too sick with communicable disease but trying to travel if detected may not be permitted to board the air craft.

d) Passengers who have physical injuries /open wounds which are bleeding would not be allowed to board the air craft for their own safety.

Can disabled passenger perform air travel ? If yes, are there any additional procedures ?

A disabled passenger can undertake air travel like any other normal passenger. However, they are required to complete certain formalities prior to commencement of the journey for their own convenience such as :

(a) Request for wheel chair assistance from the point of entry till the aircraft. Some airlines provide wheel chair assistance till the aisle depending upon the type of the aircraft they are flying. The passenger needs to be in possession of a medical certificate issued by a competent doctor declaring her need for wheel chair.

(b) Stretcher cases or bed ridden patients can also perform air travel subject to the airline policy. Nowadays many airlines permit stretcher patients (Adult, Child or Infant) in their domestic and international flights subject to prior medical clearance and filling up of certain forms.

During a stop-over if an aircraft develops a snag and has to layoff for the night at a location other than the intended destination of the passengers, who will bear their boarding and lodging expenses?

In the event of a technical snag, if the aircraft has to layoff for the night at a location other than the intended destination, the airlines will provide suitable boarding and lodging to the passengers including the transit to and fro to the airport free of cost.

What are the remedies available to a passenger if a checked-in baggage is stolen?

In an unfortunate instance of checked-in baggage reported missing or stolen, the passenger needs to lodge a complaint with the service desk of the airline and the airline staff will try to electronically locate the luggage if it has been erroneously loaded in a different aircraft. If they are able to locate it, the airlines would arrange for it to be couriered to you free of cost. However, if the baggage is untraceable and has been declared lost, then the passenger would be compensated by the airliner as per their compensation policy.

What should an airline passenger do if he observes the pilot of the aircraft is under the influence of alcohol?

If a passenger suspects that the pilot is under the influence of alcohol, he/she may immediately bring it to the attention of the airline staff to intimate the same to the airport authorities.

What should an airline passenger do when a fellow passenger misbehaves with him / her?

The passenger can immediately bring the incident to the attention of the airline staff and can request for an alternate seat. If the incident is of serious nature and might warrant legal intervention, the pilot may be intimated who will in turn report the matter to the airport authorities at the destination for further action.

What are the in-flight amenities to be provided by an airline to a passenger free of cost?

Irrespective of the class of travel, every passenger is to be provided with free drinking water, pillows, blankets on long distance/international journey and minor medical aids as and when necessary.

What are the remedies available for a passenger whose baggage is misplaced by the airline after checked-in by the passenger?

The passenger needs to lodge a complaint with the service desk and the airport staff will electronically locate your luggage and – if they can find it – arrange for it to be couriered to you. If the baggage is untraceable then the passenger would be compensated by the airliner. Please refer the airline website for their compensation policy.

What can a passenger do if an airline staff misbehaves with him/her?

The passenger needs to lodge a complaint with the service desk and the airport of the concerned airlines. The airlines would conduct an inquiry into the incident and the staff if found guilty would be penalized accordingly under intimation to the passenger.

Is a person who lost one or more of his family members due to an air crash entitled for compensation from the fro If a person loses one of his family members due to air crash, can he claim compensation from the airliner?

Yes.  The Montreal Convention (formally, the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air) provides that loss of life due to air crash needs to be compensated by the airlines which has been fixed at 1,00,000 SDR (Special Drawing Rights).