Overbooking of flights has always been evident during the holiday season, which is generally the peak season for travelling. With air travel becoming a more reasonable and time saving means of transport along with improving connectivity, the frequency of flights are also matching up to this demand. However, it is observed that keeping a track of multiple bookings being placed via various online and offline portals has resulted in obvious cases of overbookings, which causes inconvenience to the bookings made that have been made and confirmed.
In a recent order passed by the Delhi High Court, a passenger, who had booked his flight well in advance, was denied entry to board the flight due to overbooking. This issue was raised by the passenger, Mr Pallav Mongia, regarding permit for overbooking that was highlighted in the Civil Aviation Requirement Rules issued by the Director General for Civil Aviation (DGCA). In response, the DGCA clarified that although it recognises that the practise of overbooking exists, it does not affirm that this practise is supported by the DGCA and, at the same time, is sanctioned by law.
The reasoning given by the DGCA regarding the specific paragraphs 3.2 and 3.5 of the CAR have to be read together as they mention specifically that in cases of overbooking, the passengers denied permission to board the flight should be duly compensated as they are entitled to the ticket that they have paid money for. Such denial amounts to deficiency in services and compensation is not merely restricted to the amounts specified under Rule 3.5 of the CAR and passengers may take recourse to claim for compensation/damages under the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums.
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