As more & more people travel by air, a centralized & simple to use grievance system is necessary. The Government has launched the ‘Air Sewa’ portal & also published a charter of passenger rights towards this end. Government data indicates that a total of more than ₹ 100 crore has been paid in compensation for complaints against Airlines between 2016 & 2018.

With more and more people choosing to
travel by air every year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
released a ‘Passenger Charter’, or a ‘Know
Your Rights’ document for the passengers aiming to make air travel efficient,
fair and approachable. This document was released in February this year at the ‘Aviation Conclave’ themed ‘Flying for
all’.

The charter enlightens flyers all with
their rights when a flight is cancelled, delayed, diverted and in other
emergencies. Factly had earlier written in detail about this
charter.

We look at the complaints received, nature
of complaints and action taken with respect to facilities provided to flight
passengers in this story.

The number of domestic passengers has doubled from 6 crores in 2014 to
about 12 crores in 2018

In the period between January and July 2019
alone, 8.26 crore passengers were carried by
domestic airlines. This is an increase of 3.2% compared to the same period last
year.

In fact, the total number of domestic
passengers has doubled from around 6 crores in 2014 to about 12 crores in 2018.
While the number of passengers has increased manifold over the years, what
about the numbers related to complaints?

A total of 30,433 complaints have been registered from
2016 till May 2019

Annually, thousands of complaints are lodged against airlines for various reasons. Data provided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in the Lok Sabha shows that from 2016 to 2018, the number of complaints has reduced. In the year 2016, a total of 9772 complaints were received. The number of complaints went down by 15% in 2017 (8293 complaints) and by a further 18% in 2018 (6820 complaints). The number for 2019 is expected to be more than the 2018 figure since 5548 complaints have already been lodged in just 5 months till May 2019.

The complaints are registered for varied reasons like baggage, catering, customer service, facilities to the disabled, refund, fare, flight problem, behaviour of staff and more.

30% of complaints are related to flight problems, 25% about customer
service and 22% regarding baggage

The maximum number of complaints lodged
every year is related to flight problem like delay, cancellation etc. Of the
total 30,433 complaints in the last three years, 30% of them fall under this
category. Annually, an average of 2,294 cases registered are related to flight
problems like delay etc. Complaints related to customer service are the next in
line. Issues such as improper treatment, threats and more fall under this
category. Such complaints comprise 25% of the total complaints. Baggage related
issues such as loss, damage and misplacement amount to 22% of the complaints. Apart
from these, issues related to catering, persons with disability, fare, refund
and others together amount to the remaining 23% of the complaints. The annual number
of complaints received in each of these categories from 2016 to May 2019 is in
the following chart.

From 2016-2018, more than 106 crores paid in Compensation

The resolution in most of these complaints has been compensation in terms of refunds or providing facilities. While most of the airlines provide alternate facilities to deal with the concerns of passengers, a look at the money spent on compensation reveals that every year, substantial amounts of money is spent on compensation for issues related to flight delays, denied boarding and flight cancellations. In 2016, ₹ 22.1 crores was spent on compensation. In the following years, 2017 and 2018, ₹ 45.6 crores and ₹ 40.7 crores was spent. For the year 2019, till May 2019, ₹ 19.2 crores has been spent. Compensation has been the largest for denied boarding where ₹ 68.2 crores has been spent for compensating for denied boarding. Flight delays has resulted in a compensation of ₹ 42.1 crores. Compensation paid for flight cancellation has amounted to ₹ 17.3 crores. It has to be noted that though the number of complaints has reduced from 2016 to 2017, the total compensation amount has almost doubled in 2017.

The passenger charter clearly lays down the rights of
Flyers

The passenger charter clearly lays down the
rights of flyers and provides details of all the facilities to be provided to
passengers.  For instance, for a delay of
flight by more than four hours, the airlines must provide food or refreshments
to the passengers. If the delay is more than six hours it is mandatory that the
airline informs the passengers a day in advance.  There are many other such provisions in the
passenger charter. You can read more about them here.

‘Airsewa’ launched to register grievances

In order to make it simpler for people to file complaints and also provide information about flights, the Government of India launched the Airsewa portal and a mobile application in November 2016. Further, one can also file a grievance using #Airsewa on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image: Compensation for complaints against Airlines

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