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DGCA issues directive: Children under 12 to sit with parents on flights without additional fees

This rule amendment aims to address complaints from passengers who found themselves separated from their children due to opting out of additional charges for seat selection. The DGCA's directive seeks to enhance the passenger experience and ensure families can travel together without inconvenience.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Updated on: April 24, 2024 13:07 IST
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Image Source : PEXELS REPRESENTATIONAL PICTURE

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a directive to airlines, compelling them to ensure that young children, up to the age of 12, are seated with at least one of their parents or guardians on flights. This move comes in response to numerous complaints from passengers, particularly those travelling in groups, who found themselves seated separately from their children due to opting out of extra seat selection charges.

Rule amendment

Under the amended rule, airlines must allocate seats to children below 12 years of age with their accompanying parent or guardian if they are on the same booking reference (PNR). The DGCA emphasised the importance of maintaining a record of such seating arrangements to facilitate compliance. "Airlines shall ensure that children upto the age of 12 years are allocated seats with at least one of their parents/guardians, who are travelling on the same PNR and a record of the same shall be maintained," an amended rule of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

India Tv - DGCA

Image Source : SOCIAL MEDIADGCA issues directive: Children under 12 to sit with parents on flights without additional fees.

Unbundled services and fees

While airlines offer various services on an opt-in basis, such as preferential seating and meals, passengers are not obligated to avail of these services. However, in instances where passengers do not select seats during web check-in, airlines may assign seats automatically before departure. "Such unbundled services are provided on 'opt-in' basis by airlines and are not mandatory. There is also a provision for auto seat assignment to passengers who have not selected any seat for web check-in before scheduled departure. In view of the various instances that came to the notice of DGCA wherein children below the age of 12 years were not seated along with their parent/guardian, the existing (rule) has been suitably modified," a senior DGCA official said.

Global precedent and response

The issue of families being separated on flights due to seat selection charges is not unique to India. In the United States, President Joe Biden and the Department of Transportation have addressed similar concerns, advocating for legislation to ensure families can sit together without additional fees.

Impact on air travel

The DGCA’s directive aimed to alleviate the inconvenience faced by families and groups while travelling by air. By mandating seat allocation for children alongside their parents or guardians, the aviation regulator seeks to enhance the passenger experience and ensure a smoother journey for all travellers, especially families.

Also read | Sam Pitroda advocates 50 per cent inheritance tax in India, backs Congress' stand on wealth redistribution

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