Airlines revisit cancellation fees after row over flat Rs3,000 charge

Following a missive from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, airlines will no longer charge a flat Rs3,000 as cancellation charges for domestic air tickets bought at a discount.

According to reports, India's airlines now say their domestic cancellation charges will be "Rs 3,000 or base fare plus fuel surcharge per passenger, whichever is lower".

While this will not affect those buying tickets worth over Rs3,000 in the first place, it will provide relief to those who manage to buy cheap air tickets through special offers, usually well in advance of the travel date, but end up losing a lot of money if they have to cancel.

However, domestic travellers whose base fare and fuel surcharges combined is more than Rs3,000, will continue paying that as cancellation fee.

The change in rule comes after aviation minister Jayant Sinha recently voiced concern over the flat Rs3,000 domestic cancellation fee being too high. The DGCA then wrote to airlines asking them to provide data on cancellation charges as rules do not allow these to be more than the sum of base fare and fuel surcharge.

"We believe cancellation charges are on the high side and onerous for passengers. The Rs3,000 fee is in many cases more than the price of the ticket itself. Our UDAN (subsidised regional flying) scheme has capped fares at Rs2,500 per hour of flying. These cancellation charges need to be brought back into balance," Sinha had said.

The 'Refund of Airline Tickets to Passengers of Public Transport Undertakings' rule came into effect from 1 August 2016. It says, ''The issue of refund of tickets by airlines has become a major source of grievance amongst airline passengers.''

The civil aviation authorities have received a large number of complaints from people relating to delay in refund, amount refunded and policy of not giving a refund but adjusting the amount against future purchase of a ticket.