India Offers Up To 400% Passenger Refund For Denied Boarding


If you’re flying in India and have been denied boarding then you could be in for a payout under the right conditions. In fact, if the airline fails to put you on an alternate flight within 24 hours of your original departure time then you could get a full refund the value of your ticket plus compensation equal to 400% of the published one-way basic fare, to a maximum of INR 20,000 (US$280).

Qatar IndiGo
Air India is the worst offender for denied boardings in India Photo: Sean D Silva via Wikimedia 

Denied boardings in the spotlight

The policy actually comes from a set of regulations issued in August 2010 by the Director General of Civil Aviation. While this policy is not at all new, it is in the spotlight because of how many denied boardings have been taking place in India.

According to the Times of India, this past October saw a total of 1,102 passengers denied boarding by various airlines. Here are some of the numbers for India:

  • Air India (822)
  • Spicejet (226)
  • IndiGo (35)
  • Air Asia (14)
  • Vistara (5)

It is astounding that Air India was responsible for nearly 75% of all denied boardings for the month. In total, the amount of compensation issued by airlines to passengers was over Rs 47 lakhs – equating to roughly US$65,000.

May and June 2019 were particularly bad months. In May, 3,351 passengers were denied boarding. Again, Air India took the unfortunate first place title with 2,563 denied boardings – roughly 76% for the month. In June the number of denied boardings was even higher at 3,834.

Interested in how airlines compare in the United States? We wrote an article about that.


The official government policy

Below is what “CIVIL AVIATION REQUIREMENTS SECTION 3 – AIR TRANSPORT SERIES ‘M’ PART IV” states in terms of compensation for denied boardings:

  • The airline won’t have to offer any form of refund if an alternate flight is arranged within one hour of the original schedule departure time of the initial reservation.
  • Failing this, an amount equal to 200% of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to a maximum of INR 10,000 (US$140), if the airline arranges an alternate flight that departs within 24 hours of the booked scheduled departure.
  • The number doubles to 400% of booked one-way basic fare plus the airline fuel charge, subject to a maximum of INR 20,000 (US$280) if the alternate flight is over 24 hours past the booked scheduled departure OR the passenger does not opt for the alternate flight.
indigo A320neo engine
Indigo only denied boarding to 35 passengers in October. Photo: IndiGo

Passenger rights around the world

Without going too deep on passenger rights in various countries all over the world, we know that the European Union has some of the strongest policies for protecting travelers. In fact, under the right conditions, you could see as much as €600 in compensation.

This year airline passengers in Canada were granted some additional protections with rules being introduced by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). The Canadian Passenger Bill of Rights states that delays of less than six hours require a minimum payment of C$900. Delays of between six and nine hours C$1,800 and delays longer than nine hours C$2,400. When it comes to lost and damaged bags, airlines will be required to pay a minimum of C$2,100 per item of luggage.


Without government-mandated policies like the above, it is at the airline’s discretion what level of compensation passengers are offered.


Unfortunately, as the Indian government has put a US$280 cap on the 400% refund, the regulation sounds more impactful than it actually is. Furthermore, as this policy is over nine years old, one would assume that the Indian carriers are now quite used to dealing with it, forming their booking policies to take this into consideration.

Whether you are traveling through India, the EU, or Canada, have you ever had to claim compensation through government policies for a denied boarding? Let us know in the comments how the experience was.

We contacted several Indian carriers with requests for comment but have not heard back at the time of publishing this article.

SpiceJet denied boarding to 226 passengers in October. Ramon via Wikimedia Commons