In a move to empower passengers, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday said that they have asked the airlines to ensure resolution of passenger complaints on social media and also keep passengers updated on delays and cancellations at all times along with ensuring that the refunds are processed in-time.
"The airlines will have to send periodic messages to passengers and keep them updated on delays and cancellations and ensure timely refund to passengers. The airlines have also been asked to coordinate with and control travel agents to resolve issues with respect to tickets booked by travel agents," Amit Gupta, director at DGCA wrote in a note to airline managements. Business Standard reviewed a copy of the note.
The move industry sources said was sparked off by multiple grievances by passengers in Septmeber when heavy spell of showers forced cancellation of more than 30 flights and more than 100 getting delayed and diverted. "There was visible outrage by flyers following the lack of information from airlines. Hence DGCA is reminding airlines to follow the rules,” an airline executive said.
The airlines have also been asked to provide special facilities to senior citizens travelling and make available food and water to passengers in case of flight delays and cancellations.
These passenger grievance redressal norms were discussed and finalised in a meeting convened by DGCA chief Arun Kumar on Thursday and as winter season starts, where airlines and passengers face a lot of fog delays, primarily in North India.
In case the passenger is not satisfied with the resolution of complaint by the airline, they can approach the DGCA for its satisfactory resolution.
"The DGCA will monitor the new resolution mechanism prescribed and any laxity in resolution would attract strict action," said a senior government official.
The aviation regulator has also ordered a long-pending issue of number sharing between airlines and travel agents and has ordered that the travel agents will have to share passenger mobile numbers with airlines.
"The airline must keep close coordination with their travel agents. The travel agents must share the mobile numbers of the travelling passengers with the airlines for flight information update,” the advisory by the aviation regulation reads.
The airlines have since long been complaining about travel agents not sharing passengers mobile number and other details and they are not able to inform passengers about delays and cancellation, which causes inconvenience to passengers.
Travel agents do not share these details because they fear that the airlines would then connect with passengers directly eating into their business. With this order, the issue has been decided.