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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Children up to age 12 to be given seats with their parents or guardians in airlines in India

India's DGCA updates the Air Transport Circular to allow unbundled services on opt-in basis in domestic airlines, plus more details.

People boarding a flight (Representative image).
Photo by Anugrah Lohiya from Pexels.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Govt. of India, in their latest announcement on 23 April 2024, has asked all domestic airlines to ensure that children up to the age of 12 are allotted seats with at least one of their parents or guardians who are travelling on the same PNR.

The DGCA updated the Air Transport Circular (ATC-01 of 2024) titled "Unbundle of Services and fees by scheduled airlines". This circular applies to all scheduled domestic airlines only.

As per this new circular dated 23 April 2024, the Government will allow following services to be unbundled and charged separately on an opt-in basis by airlines :

  1. Preferential seating
  2. Meal / snack / drink charges (excluding drinking water)
  3. Airline lounge charges
  4. Check-in baggage charges : As part of airline baggage policy, scheduled airlines will be allowed to offer free baggage allowance as well as "Zero baggage / No check-in baggage fares", (conditions applied, as given in the circular).
  5. Sports equipment charges
  6. Musical instrument carriage
  7. Fee for special declaration of valuable baggage

The above services are allowed to be charged separately on opt-in basis only, and not as opt-out. That is, you have to opt in to them yourself if you want to, and the airlines cannot bundle them along with other charges with an option for opting out.

Unbundling means charging separately for items or services rather than as part of a package. By this latest guidelines in the DGCA circular, airlines are now allowed to offer and charge for the aforementioned services separately, on an opt-in basis only. That is, you can now avail such services only if you need them, and you will be charged for such services only if you opt-in to use them.

Based on various feedback received, the DGCA decided to allow unbundling of services and charges, as all passengers may not be needing to use all the services offered.

So now, only the passengers who may need these services can avail them by opting-in for the ones they need. And those who don't need them, need not opt-in and don't have to pay for those unused services, hence reducing the costs.

This is only a brief summary. For full details, see the DGCA Circular ATC-01 of 2024 titled "Unbundle of Services and fees by scheduled airlines".

In addition to this, the tweet by All India Radio (AIR) adds that DGCA noted various instances where children below age 12 were not being seated with their parents or guardians, and to address this issue, it has revised the Air Transport Circular to include the following provision : "Airlines shall ensure that children up to the age of 12 are allocated seats with at least one of their parents or guardians who are travelling on the same PNR and a record of the same shall be maintained."

PNR means Passenger Name Record, a unique alphanumeric code or number assigned to your ticket which you book for either an individual or a group of people. You can find the PNR on your ticket.

  1. Air Transport Circular 01 of 2024 - Unbundle of Services and fees by scheduled airlines - Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India
  2. DGCA Press Note - Tweet by All India Radio News Alerts

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