The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has, in unequivocal terms, submitted before the Delhi High Court that passengers who are denied boarding due to over-booking need to be paid immediate compensation and provided with necessary arrangements for their travel by the concerned airlines.
The submission was made on a Petition filed by Mr. Pallav Mongia, who had been denied boarding by Air India in December, 2015, despite having a confirmed ticket. He had now challenged paragraph 3.2 of the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) issued by the DGCA, which acknowledged the practice of over-booking.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru, however, opined that the impugned para did not endorse the practice, observing, "A plain reading of paragraph 3.2 indicates that the DGCA has recognized that certain airlines follow the practice of overbooking flights; however, the same cannot be read to mean that the DGCA has permitted the airlines to do so. And, it certainly cannot mean that such practice has the sanction of law."
The Court further refused to accept the contention that the CAR puts a cap on the compensation that can be demanded from the airlines in such cases, accepting DGCA's stand that the amounts mentioned in the CAR only indicated the immediate relief that the airlines are supposed to pay to the passengers. This, the DGCA submitted, does not preclude the passengers from taking any action to recover further compensation.
These contentions were supported by Air India, which submitted that denying boarding to a passenger holding confirmed tickets would amount to deficiency of service and entitles them to seek compensation for the same.
In view of the "unequivocal stand of the DGCA and the Air India", the Court opined that it was not necessary to examine the question whether DGCA had jurisdiction to issue the impugned CAR, and disposed of the Petition.