Vistara delay, cancellation: Know compensation rights

Vistara has cancelled close to 100 flights so far this week, according to various reports. The airline cancelled close to 50 flights on on Monday, April 1. The number of cancellations could go up to 60 on Tuesday, April 2. Stranded frustrated passengers took to social media platforms to complain about the trouble they are facing due to massive delays by the Vistara. The Ministry of Civil Aviation on April 2, 2024, asked the airline to submit daily information and details on the flights that are being cancelled and delayed.

If you are scheduled to take a Vistara flight and it has been delayed or cancelled what can you do? Will you get a refund from the airline? What are the rules regarding the cancellation of flights from the airlines? Let’s find out here.

Vistara flight delay or cancellation: What are your rights as passengers? Know what DGCA says

In a bid to provide some relief to the customers whose flights have been cancelled or delayed, the ministry said in a tweet, “Ministry of Civil Aviation is monitoring the situation of Vistara flight cancellations…Airlines have to comply with DGCA norms to ensure passenger facilitation in case of cancellation or delay of flights.”

According to the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) Section 3, Series M, Part IV titled “Facilities to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights” issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) the airlines have to provide following measures to the affected passengers due to cancellation and delay.

1) In case of cancellation, the airlines have to either provide an alternate flight or provide compensation in addition to the full refund of the air ticket. Furthermore, the airline should provide meals and refreshments to the passengers who have already reported for their original flight at the airport while waiting for the alternate flight.

2) In case of a flight delay, the airline is required to provide meals and refreshments, an alternate flight/full refund of the ticket to the passenger, or hotel accommodation (including transfers) depending on the total flight delay.

However, you need to keep in mind that airlines are not obliged to compensate in cases where the cancellation and delay is caused by a force majeure event i.e. extraordinary circumstance(s) beyond the control of the airline.

Travel insurance can help when your flight is delayed or cancelled

A travel insurance can come to your rescue when your flight is delayed or cancelled. A travel insurance policy with coverage for flight delay covers serves as a safeguard for travellers, providing compensation for incidental expenses incurred at the airport in the event of a delayed flight beyond the stipulated duration mentioned in the policy, says Manas Kapoor, Business Head – of Travel Insurance,

A flight delay cover, commonly referred to as common carrier delay cover, is typically part of a comprehensive travel insurance plan. Under a flight delay cover, one can receive a flat benefit of a certain amount as mentioned in the travel policy if the flight is delayed beyond a certain time limit.

The insurer will compensate customers when flight delays are caused by various factors, including inclement weather, unavailability of essential airline crew or support staff, technical issues or equipment failure in the aircraft, air traffic congestion, operational challenges like crew scheduling issues, or delays resulting from the cancellation or rescheduling of other flights, says Kapoor.

Few online travel aggregators also offer standalone flight delay and cancellation coverage during flight bookings through tie-ups with insurance companies.

Travel insurance can get you up to Rs 50,000 for domestic flight delay, US$5,000 for international flight delay

If you are travelling abroad, travel insurance policies with flight delay cover may be even more beneficial to you. The insurer will pay you a flat sum insured in case your flight is delayed by a stipulated time if you follow all the other terms and conditions mentioned in the policy.

Go Digit’s ‘On-the-move’ travel insurance policy offers a maximum sum insured of Rs 50,000 for common carrier delay for domestic travel. For overseas travel, the maximum sum insured for common carrier delay has been set at US$5,000.

“Under Go Digit’s ‘On-the-move’ insurance, if a flight is delayed beyond a stipulated number of hours (typically two to three hours), then a flat benefit payout is given to the customer that typically helps in covering for any additional expenses a traveller ends up making during the time spent at the airport,” says Vivek Chaturvedi, CMO and Head of Direct Sales

Bajaj Travel Ace is another travel insurance policy that covers flight delays due to fog or inclement weather. Under Bajaj Travel Ace, the maximum sum insured will be Rs 50,000 for domestic travel and US$1,000 for international flights.

“Tata AIG has started offering a unique solution for the flight delay cases where the claim is paid as Instant gratification. In case of instant gratification, claim amounts are disbursed upfront, with usually up to Rs 2,500,” says Amrish Dubey, Vice President, Travel Insurance of Tata AIG.

However, otherwise in the general case, for domestic flight delays, the claim limit can extend to Rs 8,000-10,000, while for international delays, it may reach up to Rs 40,000-50,000.

It is important to know about the deductible associated with this benefit. For instance, if there’s a six-hour deductible for flight delays, customers can avail of benefits only after this duration.

Vistara flight cancellation: You can get up to Rs 2 lakh for domestic flight cancellation

If your flight is cancelled, you can also get a refund for it if you have a travel insurance policy. Under Go Digit’s ‘On-the-move’, a maximum sum insured of Rs 2 lakh can be claimed in case of trip cancellation for domestic travel, as per the policy document. For international trips, the maximum sum insured will be US$10,000, according to the policy.

Certain travel insurance policies cover missed connecting flights that allow travelers to claim compensation for additional expenses only if it meets pre-defined terms and conditions, says Chirag Nihalani, General Manager, Insurance Samadhan.

How much does travel insurance cost?

Flight delay cover is typically a part of your comprehensive travel policy. “Travel policies are not expensive policies and the premium starts from Rs 150- 200 for domestic travel whereas the premium for Overseas Travel starts from Rs 500 and depends on the trip duration, destination and deductibles/sum insured opted,” says Dubey.

“Typically, the average cost of getting travel insurance is 4% to 10% of the cost of the trip,” says Nihalani.

But do remember that the devils are in details. So read your policy document carefully before buying.

Roy Walsh

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