The Ministry of Transport has recently taken a significant step in safeguarding passengers’ rights in cases of flight cancellations and delays. With the issuance of a new document reviewing and amending circulars related to air transport, the ministry has specified the obligations of air carriers towards passengers, especially during extended flight delays. This article explores the key provisions of the new document and outlines the rights passengers hold in such situations.
The Definition of Delayed Flights
The document clearly defines a delayed flight as one with an actual departure time delayed by more than 15 minutes from the scheduled time in the flight schedule. This sets the benchmark for passengers to be eligible for certain rights and compensations in the event of delays.
Flight Delayed for Two Hours or More
For flights delayed for two hours or more, the air carrier is obligated to provide suitable itinerary changes for passengers or switch them to another flight that ensures they reach their final destination. In such cases, the airline cannot impose any conditions on the itinerary changes or flight switches, and any related surcharges must be exempted.
Flight Delayed for Five Hours or More
The new document explicitly addresses flights delayed for five hours or more. In these situations, passengers have the option to request a ticket refund from the carrier instead of availing the itinerary changes. If passengers opt for a refund, the airline is required to refund the entire ticket fare or the unused portion of the fare, based on the passenger’s choice. Passengers can claim the refund at the airport or the designated offices, branches, or ticketing agents of the airline.
Extended Flight Delays and Non-Refundable Compensation
In cases of extended flight delays, the carrier is mandated to provide non-refundable compensation in advance to confirmed and ticketed passengers upon their request. The regulations on non-refundable advance compensation in air passenger transportation apply to such situations.
Flight Cancellations and Passenger Rights
Flight cancelation, as defined in the document, occurs when a flight is not performed despite its reservation and ticket sales being announced on the carrier’s reservation and ticketing system within 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.
When passengers are not transported due to the carrier’s fault in such cases, the airline must provide non-refundable advance compensation to confirmed and ticketed passengers. Alternatively, they have the right to opt for suitable itinerary changes or switch to another flight to reach their final destination, with exemptions on taxes and fees in the ticket.
Refunds for Completely Unused Tickets
The document also addresses situations involving completely unused tickets. In such instances, the Ministry of Transport has stipulated that the refund amount will be equal to the ticket fare paid by the passenger. This fare includes charges for transportation services, government-regulated taxes and fees, passenger and baggage security service fees, passenger service fees at airports collected by the airline, and other relevant surcharges as per the lawful invoices provided by the passenger.
Effective Date of the Document
The new document is set to take effect on September 1, 2023. From this date onwards, all air carriers operating within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport must adhere to the specified guidelines and obligations towards passengers during flight cancellations and delays.
The Ministry of Transport’s issuance of a comprehensive document outlining the rights of passengers during flight cancellations and delays is a significant step in prioritizing passenger welfare. With clear definitions and provisions for different scenarios, passengers are now equipped with the knowledge and assurance that their rights will be upheld in the face of unforeseen circumstances. As the document comes into effect, passengers can travel with a sense of security, knowing that their well-being is at the forefront of air transport regulations.
1. What is considered a delayed flight according to the new document? A delayed flight is defined as a flight with an actual departure time delayed by more than 15 minutes from the scheduled time in the flight schedule.
2. What rights do passengers have for flights delayed for two hours or more? For flights delayed for two hours or more, passengers have the right to receive suitable itinerary changes or switch to another flight at no additional cost.
3. Can passengers request a refund for flights delayed for five hours or more? Yes, passengers have the option to request a refund for flights delayed for five hours or more, and the airline must comply with the refund request.
4. What are the options for passengers in case of flight cancellations? In case of flight cancellations due to the carrier’s fault, passengers can request non-refundable advance compensation, opt for suitable itinerary changes, or switch to another flight.
5. When will the new document be effective? The new document will be effective from September 1, 2023, onwards, applying to all air carriers under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport.