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Flight cancelled or delayed? Know about claiming compensation

Sometimes bad weather, air crew strikes and other unforeseen events threaten to ruin your travel plans; resulting in flight delays and cancellations. What happens in such cases and what are your rights? This Skyscanner India guide will answer all your questions about what happens if your flight is delayed or cancelled; and if, how and when you can claim compensation.

*Please check The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) website or official airline or online travel agency websites for policies and details

What happens if my flight is delayed?

Delayed flight scenarios can present in a number of ways, and your rights depend on the situation that you are in. The below are passenger rights guidelines provided by the DGCA, but travellers should always check with their airline or travel agent for specific policies and timelines, as these can vary depending on the circumstances and depending on how you booked your travel.

  • If your flight has been delayed for 2 hours or more, you are entitled to free-of-charge meals or refreshments, depending on the duration of your wait.
  • If your domestic flight has kept you waiting for over 6 hours, the airline must communicate a reschedule time more than 24 hours before the original scheduled departure. The airline will also have to offer an alternate flight to you within a period of 6 hours or give you a full refund of your ticket.
  • For delayed flights, (where the delay has been communicated to you more than 24 hours prior to the original scheduled departure), by more than 24 hours or more than 6 hours for flights scheduled to leave between 20:00 and 3:00 hours, you are entitled to free hotel accommodation.
Figure out your options

What happens if my flight is cancelled?

Cancelled flights can play havoc with your travel plans, so under ordinary circumstances, airlines are meant to inform you about the cancellation a minimum of two weeks before the scheduled departure time. At the same time, they should arrange another flight for you or refund your ticket. But this isn’t always the case, so travellers should ensure they check with their airline or through their online travel agency as policies and circumstances may differ.

  • In a scenario where you are informed about the cancellation less than 2 weeks before but up to 24 hours of the scheduled departure time, the airline should provide an alternate ticket for you or refund your ticket.
  • In cases where you have not been informed according to procedure or have missed a connecting flight booked on the same ticket number, the airline should provide another flight that suits you or give you compensation and a full refund.

If you booked travel through an OTA, policies may be different. As all agencies are different, contact customer service or check official OTA websites for details on when, how and if you can pursue a refund for flight cancellations. Not sure where to start? Skyscanner’s help page may be able to point you in the right direction.

Change of plan

How much compensation for a flight can I claim?

If the airline fails to inform you about the cancellation within the stipulated time period of a minimum of two weeks in advance, the airline should compensate you.* The amount also depends on the travel provider you have booked with, whether it is the airline itself or an online travel agent. The below are guidelines provided by the DGCA:

  • INR 5,000 or a one way booked basic fare plus fuel charge, whichever is lesser, if the flight has a block time of up to and including one hour
  • INR 7,500 or a one way booked basic fare plus fuel charge, whichever is lesser, if the flight has a block time of more than one hour and up to and including two hours
  • INR 10,000 or a one way booked basic fare plus fuel charge, whichever is lesser, if the flight has a block time of more than two hours

According to the DGCA, the airline also has to provide free-of-charge meals and refreshments while you wait for your alternate flight, but this is only if you have already reported for your original flight. If you have been informed of the change less than 6 hours before the departure time, the airline will also be responsible for getting you to a different airport or terminal in case the alternate flight requires that. But remember, financial compensation is paid only if you provided adequate contact information at the time of booking.

*Please note that compensation policies can vary. Online travel agencies (OTAs) may take a processing fee, and airlines may have specific procedures in place. Always check the airline or OTA policies prior to booking.

How long before I get my refund?

Refund processing times will vary depending on the circumstances, so patience is key. Under perfect circumstances, you can often expect to get your refund immediately if you paid by cash, or within 7 days if the payment was made by credit card and from the travel agent in case you booked through one. However, if there are many claims pending, wait times can increase. Also be sure to check with your airline or OTA for expected timelines when you make a claim.

Can I get a refund if I miss a connecting flight?

The chances of getting a refund if the first flight is cancelled or delayed and you miss your connecting flight are extremely low if the flight is run by a separate airline. Hence, booking connecting flights with the same airline is beneficial even if it works out to be more expensive.

Stick with the same airline

How can travellers get a compensation?

You can claim compensation by taking the matter up with the nodal officer of the concerned airline. Do remember that the time frame to solve any disputes is one month. Also keep in mind that while filing your claim, you must upload all necessary documents required by the airline to avoid any complications in the process. These include your contact details, the credit card number used to purchase the ticket, your ticket number, flight number, date of travel and billing address. If the issue remains unresolved with the nodal officer, you may take the issue up with the concerned airline’s appellate authority. If you are struggling to file the claim on your own, companies such as RefundMe can help you do so. Airlines in India, for example IndiGo Airlines and GoAir, follow DGCA guidelines for processing any compensation claims that are the result of cancellations and delays. If you aren’t sure how your specific airline handles claims, visit their official website for details.

What am I entitled to if I am denied the right to board?

Sometimes, you may be denied the right to board in case of overbooking, which occasionally happens among airlines, to reduce the possibility of taking off with unoccupied seats. In such cases, the airline is liable to provide compensation only when it is unable to put you on an alternate flight scheduled to leave within 1 hour of your original departure time. Click here for details of compensation options.

What if my airline goes bankrupt?

It can be stressful and confusing if the airline you’ve booked your travel goes bankrupt prior to your journey. Each case is different, so it’s important you adhere to any communication that you’ve received in light of the collapse. When Jet Airways went bankrupt, here is how the situation developed and how passengers could respond:

Where possible, passengers were put on alternate flights for which they were notified via text message, email or phone call. Where the alternate flight was unsuitable, passengers were offered a full refund.

  • Claims for tickets booked directly through Jet Airways were processed after passengers filled out a form on the Disruption Assistance page of the website. After this, it took 7-10 working days for the refund to reflect in the passengers’ accounts. If the flight was cancelled within 72 hours of departure, passengers had to call the airline or visit one of the ticketing offices to file the claim.
  • In case the booking was made through a travel portal, passengers had to contact the respective company to process the refund.

The DGCA monitored all claims and assisted when required. All cases are unique, however, so if an airline goes bankrupt, do your research to ensure you know exactly how to rebook or get a refund, if possible.

All information correct at time of publishing on March 30, 2020. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, refer to the official airline website for policies and details.

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