Exploring the Rights of Passengers on Domestic and International Flights



The purpose of this paper is to understand what are the rights of a passenger while he is boarding an international or domestic flight. This paper will help study the rights of passengers regarding flight delays, flight cancellations, boarding denied due to overbooking, flight diversion, the rights of disabled persons and lost, delayed or damaged luggage.

Research Methodology:

The researcher has used secondary sources for the research. The researcher has used books, case studies, journals indexed in Scopus, and articles found on the internet


The research that looked at the rights of passengers on local and international flights brought to light how important it is for the aviation sector to protect and improve passenger rights. It also discusses the rights of passengers during flight delays, flight cancellations, boarding denied due to overbooking, flight diversion, rights of disabled persons and lost, delayed or damaged luggage.


This paper is a hundred per cent original and has not been plagiarized.


Civil Aviation, Air Passenger Charter, Passenger Rights, Jeeja Ghosh


In 2021, approximately 8.38 billion Indians travelled on domestic flights, up from 6.3 billion in 2020. In addition to several regional airlines, charter airlines, and cargo airlines, approximately seven airlines operate domestically within India at present.Over the course of the previous three years, domestic airlines have received over 4,700 consumer complaints[1] about the handling of luggage, customer service, the behaviour of workers, and meals.

Air India now has 2657 ongoing legal cases[2] in local and foreign courts. The aforementioned instances involve staff service, consumer complaints, and company issues. The declaration was made by V.K. Singh, Minister of Civil Aviation, in the month of March 2022.

The issue is that a lot of people do not know that the law is on their side or that they have rights as a guest. About 85% of people who fly do not know what their rights are.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is the regulatory body responsible for supervising Civil Aviation in India. It is predominantly concerned with matters of safety. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is responsible for regulating air transport services and ensuring their safety. This initiative’s primary objective is to enhance the provision of safe and efficient air transport services. In addition, it collaborates with the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The corporate headquarters are located in New Delhi, while the subsidiary offices are dispersed throughout India.

According to the recently implemented Air Passenger Charter of 2019, air passengers have certain rights that include compensation for a variety of issues such as flight delays, lost or damaged baggage, flight cancellations, denied boarding, and any instances of temporal inconsistency caused by the actions of airline personnel. There would be no legal responsibilities put on airlines in scenarios beyond their control, such as cases of extreme circumstances like radar failure, bad weather, and strikes.

Research Methodology

The researcher chose to conduct the search using an analytical study as their research approach, and they mostly relied on secondary sources for their findings. To collect reliable data, the researcher has been consulting books, case studies, journals indexed in Scopus, and articles found on the internet. In this study, no primary data has been analysed or utilised in any way.

Review of Literature

  • Budd, L., & Ison, S. (2020). [3]This paper studies the rights of disabled passengers throughout countries. One of the passenger categories that is growing the quickest globally is those who need special assistance. Such travellers are to be given the same access to air travel as other passengers, according to legislation. A global analysis of 47 nations’ legislation governing the rights of passengers flying inebriated was conducted. There are no international standards governing the privileges of flying passengers with disabilities. The paper examines the effects on passengers, airlines, and airports.
  • Walia, S., Sharma, D., & Mathur, A. (2021)[4]. This paper suggests a way to think about how the way customers see the quality of service affects their happiness and loyalty. A big part of how airlines run their service operations is putting the customer first. Structural equation modelling (SEM) is used to look at the information from 154 people who flew on local flights from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (I.G.I) airport. The study’s results show that passenger happiness with the level of service has a strong and good effect on loyalty. customer happiness is a key link between how good a service is seen to be and how loyal a customer is.
  • Agarwal, I., & Gowda, K. R. (2021)[5] : The Indian flying industry is rapidly expanding, with private companies accounting for more than 75% of the market. The Civil Aviation Ministry anticipated that India’s Airports Authority will have a higher profit margin than forecast in 2009. The importance of service quality in determining how to identify and provide exceptional service cannot be overstated. Passenger pleasure is critical for consumer sovereignty, and businesses must understand more about the relationship between customer contentment and their intentions to behave in an online environment. This research assists flight attendants in providing better service to their customers and ensuring that their customers are as satisfied as possible.
  • Agrawal, A. Sustainability of airlines in India with Covid-19 (2021)[6]: The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of the lockout and covid issue on Indian airlines, as well as potential future difficulties. The study also provides a possible approach to mitigate the predicted losses. The epidemic of the Coronavirus has been extremely disruptive to the aviation industry, jeopardising the survival and viability of airlines. Aside from enormous losses due to halted operations, the industry predicts a bleak future. Restrictive movements, poor tourism, reduced income, compressed commercial activity, and fear psychosis are projected to reduce passenger demand by 30 to 60%, jeopardising airlines’ business sustainability. To endure the long-term implications of Covid-19, airlines in India must make significant fundamental adjustments in their operational methods, business models, revenue and pricing strategies.


Importance of Passenger Rights

  • Passenger rights make sure that companies don’t treat their customers unfairly or in a bad way. These rights set up a system that protects the interests of consumers and encourages fairness, openness, and responsibility in the aviation business.
  • Passenger rights help make sure that air travel is safe and secure. Rules about how to handle bags, how to check for security, and what to do in an emergency help keep passengers, workers, and planes safe.
  • Clear passenger rights make the whole flight experience better. By having clear rules about things like flight delays, cancellations, being turned away at the door, and mishandled luggage, customers can expect fair pay, help, and information at the right time. This helps make travel go more smoothly and be more fun.
  • Passenger rights give air travellers a say and a way out if something goes wrong. Passengers can stand up for their rights, get paid for any problems, and hold companies responsible if they don’t follow the rules. This gives people more power and makes people feel more confident and trusting of the airline business.
  •  Making sure passengers’ rights are respected helps keep the playing field level for all companies. Regulations stop planes from doing things that aren’t fair and could give some of them an edge over others. This makes competition fair, which leads to better services, lower prices, and happier customers.
  • A strong system of passenger rights can help the airline business and the economy as a whole grow. When customers feel safe and know what their rights are, they are more likely to choose to fly. This means that there will be more people flying, more people visiting, and more business possibilities.
  • Meeting International Standards: India is in line with international standards and best practices by establishing and defending travel rights. This is especially important for foreign flights since customers expect to be treated and protected the same way no matter where they are going or which airline they choose.
  • Strong passenger rights show that a government cares about the safety and comfort of its citizens. By putting passenger rights first, the government shows that it wants its people and tourists to have a good and satisfying travel experience. In turn, this makes people feel better about the aircraft business and the country as a whole.

Flight delay’s[7]

Passenger has checked in on time, but the airline predicts a delay of:

  • 2 hours or more in the event of flights with a block time of up to 2 and a half hours.
  • 3 hours or more in the event of flights with a block time of more than 2 and a half hours up to 5 hours.
  • 4 hours or more in the event of a flight not falling into the above two categories.
  • The passenger must be offered free meals and refreshments in relation to the waiting time.

Passenger’s domestic flight is projected to be delayed by more than 6 hours:

  • The rescheduled time should be communicated to the Passenger at least 24 hours before the originally scheduled time.
  • The airline should offer an alternate solution that is a different flight within the span of  6 hours or a full refund of the flight.

When an airline encounters a flight delay that is communicated more than 24 hours before the flight’s original departure time, or if the delay is more than 24 hours or more than 6 hours for flights scheduled to depart between 20:00 and 03:00 hours:

  • The airline should provide free accommodation to its passengers.

Flight Cancellation [8]

The Charter requires the airline to provide a full refund of the ticket price or an alternative flight if it cancels a flight less than two weeks before departure, but at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.

However, if the airline fails to notify the passenger at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time, or if the passenger misses a connecting flight registered on the same ticket number due to the cancellation, the airline must compensate the passenger between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s AirSewa portal has a way for people to report problems with airports, planes, and other things connected to air travel online and keep track of them. By making an account on the AirSewa site, anyone can make a complaint and keep track of it.

Boarding Denied Due to Overbooking

According to the Charter, if a person is turned away from a flight because it is packed and is not given another flight within an hour of the original flight’s departure, the airline has to reimburse them.

The DGCA also made it clear how much a person should be compensated if he or she is turned away from a flight even though they have a valid ticket and an alternative flight is not set up within an hour.

  • If the new flight is set up within 24 hours of the original flight’s departure, the airline must pay a refund of up to Rs. 10,000.
  • If the new flight is more than 24 hours after the original flight, the airline has to pay up to Rs. 20,000 as compensation.

Flight Diversion[9]

Flight diversion occurs when a flight is diverted to another airport.

  • If the wait time is more than 2 hours then the airline should make facilitation and refreshments for the duration the passengers are supposed to wait.
  • If the wait time is less than 2 hours then the airline should make arrangements for refreshments.

Disable Patient Rights[10]

The DGCA’s “civil aviation requirements” (CAR) for “carriage by air — persons with disability and/or persons with reduced mobility” spell out rules to protect these individuals from any kind of discrimination and make sure they get all the help they need while travelling.

The guidelines were most recently updated on July 2, 2021.

Once persons with disability or reduced mobility arrive at the airport with a valid booking and intent to board the flight, the airline shall offer assistance to meet their specific requirements and ensure their seamless transit from the departure terminal of the departing airport to the aircraft, and at the end of their flight from the aircraft to the arrival terminal exit, at no additional cost

The guidelines also require that all the airlines, the operators of airports, security, customs, and immigration bureau organisations at the airport conduct training programmes for everybody engaged in passenger services to sensitise them about aiding persons with disability or reduced mobility and to warn them to avoid negative perceptions and attitudes towards such passengers.

Lost, Delayed, or Damaged Baggage

Contact the airline and get a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before leaving the airport if your bags are lost, damaged, or delayed. You will also need to send the company a written claim.

If your luggage gets broken, the company may pay to have it fixed or give you new luggage.

The Carriage by Air Act of 1972 says that an airline has to pay compensation if a passenger’s luggage is lost, damaged, or delayed.


Jeeja Ghosh vs Union Of India and ors..[11]

In February 2012, Jeeja Ghosh, a well-known campaigner for disability rights who has cerebral palsy, was kicked off a SpiceJet flight. After Ghosh took his place on the trip, the crew asked him to leave the plane. Later, it was found out that the captain had told her to leave because of her disability.

Jeeja Ghosh took the SpiceJet company to the Supreme Court so that other people wouldn’t have their rights violated as she did. These rights are protected by articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

In May 2016, the court made a landmark decision that brought attention to two important rights of disabled travellers: the right to entry and the right to acceptable accommodations. The airline had to pay Ghosh Rs 10 lakh in damages for the mental and physical pain she went through and the unfair way she was treated.

Due to the ruling, airlines asked their employees to be more understanding of people with disabilities. The CAR rules about moving and lifting people with disabilities were also changed. This was done to make sure that disabled people were treated fairly, standard wheelchairs were made available at airports, and SOPs and training were given on how to board and get these people off the plane.


  • Introduce or update legislation that explicitly protects the rights of air passengers and outlines clear compensation and assistance guidelines in the event of flight delays, cancellations, or denied boarding. Ensure that these rules are enforced effectively.
  • Mandate airlines to present transparent and comprehensive tariff breakdowns that clearly explain the ticket price components, including taxes, surcharges, and additional fees. This will aid passengers in making informed decisions and eliminate any concealed fees.
  • Establish a comprehensive and standardised compensation framework for passengers experiencing flight disruptions. The compensation should cover reasonable expenses incurred as a result of flight delays, cancellations, or denied boarding, including lodging, food, transportation, and alternative flight arrangements.
  • Information that is Timely and Accurate: Require airlines to provide passengers with accurate and timely information regarding flight schedules, delays, cancellations, and terminal modifications. Additionally, airlines should be required to promptly inform passengers of their rights and available recourses.
  • Set minimum service standards for airlines, such as prompt response to consumer inquiries and complaints. Implement severe penalties for noncompliance to ensure that airlines prioritise customer service and effectively address passenger complaints.
  • Accessibility for Disabled Passengers: Enforce regulations requiring airlines to provide appropriate assistance and accommodations for passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility. This includes accessible facilities, priority boarding, and trained personnel to accommodate their requirements.
  • Compensation for Damaged, Lost, or Delayed Luggage: Establish explicit guidelines for the management of luggage, including compensation for damaged, lost, or delayed baggage. Ensure that passengers are adequately compensated for any inconvenience or loss caused by improper cargo handling.
  • Accountability of Airlines: Strengthen regulations to ensure airlines are held accountable for their actions. Introduce sanctions and penalties for repetitive violations of passenger rights, thereby discouraging unfair practices and enhancing the overall quality of service.
  • Enlighten passengers about their legal rights and privileges by launching awareness campaigns. Provide readily accessible information via websites, brochures, and in-flight announcements, allowing passengers to comprehend and effectively exercise their rights.
  • Encourage open dialogue and cooperation between government agencies and airlines to deal with passenger concerns. Encourage airlines to engage passengers proactively and to provide effective dispute resolution mechanisms.


This paper examines the rights of passengers in India regarding various aspects of air travel, including flight delays, cancellations, boarding denials due to overbooking, flight diversions, the rights of disabled individuals, and missing, delayed, or damaged baggage.

Passengers may be given more agency if governments follow the recommendations provided and resolve the problems that have been discovered. This will result in an aviation industry that is more focused on the needs of passengers, which will be to the mutual advantage of passengers and the aviation industry.

Even though there are rules and laws, it may be hard to apply and enforce passenger rights in India. People need to know their rights and stand up for them when they need to. The DGCA and other relevant officials must also keep an eye on and evaluate the regulatory system regularly to make sure that passenger rights are well protected in the Indian aircraft business.

In the end, regular problems that come up during plane travel are used to show how important passenger rights are in India. By knowing and using these rights, people can deal with delays, protect their interests, and help improve air travel.



[1] Aneesh Phadnis, Three Years 4,700 complaints against Domestic Airlines: Govt Data Business Standard, March 14, 2023

[2] PTI, Air India has 2657 pending cases in Indian and International Courts: Government, The  Economic Times, March 14, 2022

[3]Budd, L., & Ison, S. Supporting the needs of special assistance (including PRM) passengers: An international survey of disabled air passenger rights legislation. Journal of Air Transport Management, 87, 101851. (2020).

[4] Walia, S., Sharma, D., & Mathur, A. The impact of service quality on passenger satisfaction and loyalty in the Indian aviation industry. International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Systems, 14(2), 136-143,(2021)

[5] Agarwal, I., & Gowda, K. R. The effect of airline service quality on customer satisfaction and loyalty in India. Materials Today: Proceedings, 37, 1341-1348. (2021)

[6] Agrawal, A. Sustainability of airlines in India with Covid-19: Challenges ahead and possible way-outs. J Revenue Pricing Manag 20, 457–472 (2021).

[7]Civil Aviation Requirement, Section 3, Air transport series ‘M’ IV Issue I, 6th August 2010

[8] Pallavi Mohan, what are the rights of air passengers?, Nyaaya Org, (June 2022 17:36 PM), https://nyaaya.org/nyaaya-weekly/what-are-the-rights-of-air-passengers/

[9] Civil Aviation Requirement, Section 3, Air transport series ‘M’ IV Issue I, 6th August 2010

[10] Amit Mishra, Here are the rights and privileges of specially-abled passengers on the flight, Swarajya,(June 2, 2022, 10:59 AM)


[11] Jeeja Gosh vs Union Of India, (2016), 7 S.C.C 761