Chennai, March 15: Asserting that airline passengers’ rights should be clearly defined, the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) on Wednesday said draft guidelines on passengers’ rights, on the lines of an existing code applicable in European Union countries, was expected to be ready by April.
“The draft guidelines are almost ready. We have given it to some aviation experts for their feedback. Once the final draft is ready, we will submit it to the Union consumer affairs ministry,” APAI president D. Sudhakara Reddy told reporters here. He said such a code of rights was vital because there were many instances when airline services were deficient and passengers were not compensated adequately.
Citing an instance, he said a passenger who had recently booked a ticket from Bangkok to Chennai found when he reached the airport that the flight had left two hours previously since it had been rescheduled. When the passenger insisted that he wanted to fly to Chennai, he was booked on another airline in economy class despite holding a first-class ticket.
Mr Reddy said the APAI had received many complaints that a low-cost airline did not allot seat numbers and there was a mad rush to occupy the better seats once passengers boarded the aircraft, causing inconvenience to senior citizens, women and children. “Senior citizens, women and children cannot cope with the rush and so are denied seats that should be given to them,” he said. According to him, some airlines were even demanding payment for providing wheelchairs to physically-challenged people and were also charging exorbitant amounts for mineral water.
Reiterating the demand for an independent flight safety body like the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States, he said safety audits had to be carried out on all the airlines, especially those recruiting foreign pilots. Some private airlines in fact employed pilots who were over 60 years old, he claimed.