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Airlines must reimburse 75% of the total airfare, including taxes, to the passenger whose seat is involuntary downgraded in domestic flights, according to the latest amendment to Directorate General of Civil Aviation regulations.

For international flights, a passenger will be reimbursed 30% of the ticket cost, including taxes, for up to 1,500 km, and 50% for flights covering up to 3,500 km. For distances beyond 3,500 km, airlines will have to reimburse 75% of the airfare.

The DGCA has amended Section-3 of the Civil Aviation Requirement rules, which deals with the “facilities to be provided to passengers by airline due to denied boarding, cancellation and delays in flights" to strengthen the rights of air travellers affected by downgrading of tickets, DGCA said.

The regulator had proposed the amendment in December in view of the rapid expansion of air services in India and along international routes to-and-from India, besides an increase in the volume of passenger traffic.

“It is noticed that sometimes airlines downgrade passengers (tickets). For example, when a passenger who has booked his ticket on first class, business class or premium economy, is downgraded to a lower class at the time of check-in due to various reasons like unserviceable seats, change of aircraft, overbooking, etc.," DGCA said.

Under the civil aviation rules introduced in 2010, DGCA had asked airlines to reimburse passengers if they were stopped from boarding, cancellation or delays in flights. If a person is denied boarding, airlines must reimburse 200% of the one-way basic fare plus fuel charges, to a maximum of 10,000, or must arrange alternative flights scheduled to depart within 24 hours, or 400%, with a cap of 20,000, if the alternate flight is scheduled beyond 24 hours from the time of departure.

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