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Flyers may get full refund, free travel if tickets downgraded

NEW DELHI: If any airline involuntarily downgrades a passenger with a first class, business or premium economy ticket to a lower cabin class at the time of check-in, the carrier could henceforth be required to refund the entire fare paid and fly the traveller free.
Civil aviation regulator DGCA said Friday it would soon roll out rules to protect consumer rights after consultations with the stakeholders. The proposed rules would be applicable to all airlines operating to and from India.
“In view of the rapid expansion of air services within India and on international routes to/from India, and with the increase in the volume of passenger traffic, it has been noticed that sometimes airlines downgrade passengers,” DGCA chief Arun Kumar said.
It remains to be seen if airlines accept the DGCA’s move. A senior official of an airline said. “Due to unavoidable circumstances like last-minute change of aircraft or a seat becoming unserviceable, we are sometimes forced to do this. The reasonable thing would be to refund the extra amount paid by such passengers over the economy fare. But to ask us to refund the entire ticket cost and fly them free is not a viable thing.”

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