You might get Rs. 20,000 if your flight is delayed/cancelled
If the aviation ministry's recommendations are approved, you might soon be entitled to a compensation of up to Rs. 20,000 if your flight is delayed or cancelled, depending upon the impact. It will soon release the draft of the proposals online and invite feedback. However, the move might backfire too, as airlines have warned they'll pass the additional cost on to passengers.
What do the present rules entail?
Currently, if a flight is delayed by over two hours, you are entitled to free refreshment from the carrier. If it's delayed for over 24 hours, you can get a free hotel stay. There is no provision for any kind of compensation if it is delayed while on the tarmac. There is also no monetary compensation for delays or cancellations from the airline's side.
What has the ministry proposed now?
The ministry has now proposed full refund for delays of over six hours. If that means flying the next day, you'll get a free hotel stay. If the flight gets late by 1-2 hours on the tarmac, you'll get free snacks. Post that, you'll be allowed to deboard. If you miss a connecting flight due to delay/cancellation, you'll get Rs. 20,000 as compensation.
You might get higher compensation for on-board injury and baggage-loss
There are other proposals: the airline's limit of liability will be same for both domestic and international flights in case of death/injury on board (presently Rs. 20L and Rs. 1cr respectively) and loss/damage of luggage (presently Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 1L respectively). In case of voluntary deboarding, airlines will have to conduct on-the-spot auctions. For forced denied boarding, the minimum compensation will be Rs. 5,000.
Airlines protest, warn they will hike airfare
Opposing the suggestions, airlines said that airfares in India are one of the lowest globally, and imposing extra cost on carriers will increase their burden. In many cases, delays/cancellations are due to infrastructural issues at the airports, they said. "Existing rules already safeguard passenger interests," they argued. If the government imposes extra costs, they'll be forced to "pass on the cost" to flyers.