Air travel disruptions have emerged as a persistent issue for passengers in India, encompassing delays, cancellations, and denied boarding incidents. The frequency of such disruptions has reached a point where a substantial number of travellers have experienced inconveniences, prompting them to seek compensation from airlines.

These challenges have become a recurrent concern, highlighting the need for a comprehensive examination of the root causes and the development of effective solutions to enhance the overall air travel experience.

In recent times, a significant number of passengers in India have found themselves grappling with the repercussions of air travel disruptions, prompting increased compensation claims from affected individuals.

Delays, cancellations, and denied boarding incidents collectively contribute to the growing dissatisfaction among passengers, as their travel plans are often derailed, leading to frustration and inconvenience.

The primary cause of flight disruptions in North India, particularly in the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport, New Delhi, was dense fog. The adverse weather conditions led to a cascade of delays and cancellations across airline networks, affecting not only the capital city but also causing ripples in other parts of the country.

The situation at IGI airport was exacerbated by the fact that one of the runways equipped for low-visibility operations was under maintenance, rendering it non-operational for weeks. Furthermore, the only operational CAT IIIB-compliant runway was reportedly downgraded in the category due to construction activity nearby. This limited the capacity for CAT IIIB landings to operate from only one side of the runway, contributing to delays.

Airlines operate in a complex network where aircraft and crew serve on multiple flights throughout the day. Delays, especially due to factors like fog, can lead to exceeding crew duty time limits and a lack of parking stands for incoming aircraft, further complicating operations. This scenario results in a cascading impact on airline networks, similar to a courier service experiencing delays in delivering planned orders.

The congestion and disruptions at IGI Airport had a cascading effect on other major airports, exemplified by Mumbai Airport.

Despite being unaffected by fog, Mumbai experienced delays and cancellations due to the network congestion caused by delays at Delhi Airport. The Delhi-Mumbai route, being the busiest in India, saw a significant impact on over 700 weekly flights between the political and financial capitals.

Extended delays, coupled with congestion, can lead to flight crew exceeding their Flight Duty Time Limitation (FDTL). The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) enforces strict compliance with FDTL guidelines to mitigate fatigue-related risks in aircraft operations. Crew shortages due to FDTL norms, combined with delays in take-off and finding gates after arrival, create a rapid and significant impact on airline operations.

Compensation For Delays, Cancellations, And Denied Boarding

In November, a notable surge in passenger disruptions became evident, with a significant number of individuals facing inconveniences during their air travel experiences. The statistics reveal that 2.69 lakh passengers were compensated for delays, 40 thousand for cancellations, and 1231 for denied boarding.

This upswing in compensation claims underscores the escalating frequency of incidents affecting passengers and has become a focal point for discussions on social media platforms. Passengers, now more than ever, are vocalizing their challenges, shedding light on the complexities and hurdles they encounter within airport operations.

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The data highlights a pressing need for the aviation industry to address the recurring issues leading to delays, cancellations, and denied boarding. As passengers share their experiences on social media, these platforms serve as a public forum for expressing grievances and demanding improved services.

The increased visibility of these challenges on social media not only reflects the extent of the problem but also exerts pressure on airlines and aviation authorities to enhance their operational efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

The statistics indicate a call for proactive measures to mitigate the challenges faced by passengers, emphasizing the urgency for airlines and regulatory bodies to collaboratively work towards smoother and more reliable air travel experiences.

The discourse on social media acts as a catalyst for change, pushing the industry to implement solutions that address the root causes of these disruptions and foster a more seamless and passenger-friendly air travel environment.

DGCA Regulations For Denied Boarding

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has established explicit Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) to effectively manage instances of denied boarding, aiming to safeguard passenger rights and ensure fair compensation.

According to these regulations, airlines are initially mandated to seek volunteers who are willing to give up their seats on an overbooked flight. In the event that there is an involuntary denial of boarding, the airline is then obligated to promptly arrange an alternate flight for affected passengers within one hour of the original scheduled departure.

Should the alternate flight be delayed beyond a certain threshold, the compensation provided to passengers is significantly increased. Specifically, passengers are entitled to receive compensation at a rate of 200% of the booked one-way fare if the alternate flight is more than 24 hours later than the initially scheduled departure time.

This escalation in penalties for longer delays underscores the DGCA’s commitment to holding airlines accountable for disruptions and emphasizes the importance of swift corrective measures to minimize the impact on passengers.


The DGCA’s stringent regulations for denied boarding reflect a comprehensive approach to passenger protection, balancing the operational needs of airlines with the rights and comfort of travellers. By clearly defining the compensation structure and outlining specific timeframes for alternative flight arrangements, these regulations contribute to fostering a more accountable and passenger-centric aviation environment in India.

Cancellation Guidelines And Challenges

The regulatory framework set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) outlines clear guidelines regarding airline responsibilities in informing passengers about flight cancellations. The expectation is for airlines to provide advance notice to passengers, ideally a minimum of two weeks before the scheduled travel date.

This foresight allows passengers to plan accordingly, make alternative arrangements, or adjust their travel plans with minimal disruption. By setting this standard, the DGCA aims to enhance transparency and mitigate the inconvenience caused to travelers due to unforeseen cancellations.

In cases where cancellations are announced between the two-week and 24-hour mark before departure, the regulations require airlines to take proactive measures to alleviate passenger inconvenience.

The airline is obligated to offer affected passengers two viable options: either an alternate flight to their destination or a refund for the booked ticket. This demonstrates the regulator’s commitment to ensuring that passengers have reasonable alternatives when faced with last-minute cancellations, seeking to balance the operational challenges faced by airlines with the rights and convenience of travelers.

However, the challenge arises when last-minute fares become a limiting factor for passengers attempting to secure reasonable alternatives. Last-minute ticket prices tend to surge, making it financially burdensome for passengers to find suitable replacement flights at short notice.

This issue highlights a potential gap in the regulatory framework, calling for further consideration to strike a balance that addresses the economic realities faced by passengers during sudden cancellations, ensuring they have accessible and affordable alternatives.

Addressing Flight Delays

Flight delays, a frequent occurrence in the aviation industry, have prompted regulatory measures designed to address the challenges faced by passengers during extended waiting periods. These regulations mandate that airlines provide refreshments or meals to passengers when delays exceed specific durations.

This proactive approach aims to alleviate the discomfort experienced by travelers and enhance their overall experience during unforeseen delays. By setting clear expectations for the provision of essential services, regulators seek to ensure that passengers are reasonably cared for even in the face of operational disruptions.

For prolonged delays, especially those departing between 2000 hrs and 0300 hrs, accommodations become a mandatory requirement. This reflects the recognition that extended delays can significantly impact passengers, and the provision of suitable lodging helps mitigate the inconvenience caused by overnight disruptions.

The emphasis on accommodations during specific timeframes reflects a thoughtful consideration of passengers’ well-being, recognizing that their needs may vary depending on the timing of the delay.

Loopholes And Transparency Concerns

Despite the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) commendable efforts in formulating the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) to govern the aviation industry, persistent loopholes have become apparent, raising concerns about potential exploitation by airlines.

The efficacy of these regulations is hindered by a lack of transparency, allowing for ambiguity that airlines may leverage to their advantage. The absence of a more comprehensive and transparent framework leaves room for interpretation, potentially compromising the rights and satisfaction of passengers who deserve clear and consistent compensation in the event of disruptions.

One notable challenge arises from exemptions granted to airlines for factors beyond their control, such as issues related to Air Traffic Control and political disruptions. While recognizing the unpredictability of these external elements, the exemptions create a potential avenue for airlines to avoid compensation obligations, leaving passengers grappling with the consequences of disruptions without recourse.

Striking the right balance between acknowledging uncontrollable circumstances and safeguarding passenger rights is imperative for refining these regulations.

Furthermore, the issue of incremental flight delays highlights a critical aspect of passenger inconvenience that current regulations may not adequately address. Airlines opting for staggered delays instead of upfront longer delays could exploit regulatory gaps, impacting passengers who may not receive compensation proportional to the extended inconveniences they endure.

Addressing this aspect necessitates a careful reevaluation of the regulations, emphasizing the importance of refining and updating the framework to ensure a fair, transparent, and passenger-centric approach in the dynamic landscape of the airline industry regulations to ensure fair and transparent practices in the airline industry.

While the DGCA’s regulations serve as a framework to protect passengers’ rights and facilitate compensation for disruptions, challenges endure within the aviation sector. Transparency and addressing existing loopholes are paramount for enhancing the overall travel experience. Passengers and airlines must collaborate to navigate these regulations effectively, striking a delicate balance between operational exigencies and ensuring passenger satisfaction.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: Hindustan Times, Economic Times, Live Mint

Find the blogger: Katyayani Joshi

This post is tagged under: airport, flight, delays, cancellations, fog, cold weather, passengers, rights, duties, airlines, compensation, refund, IGI Airport, Mumbai airport

Disclaimer: We do not hold any right, copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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