US orders AI to refund $121m for cancelled America flights to customers; fines it $1.4m for delay
NEW DELHI: The United States has ordered Air India to pay $121.5 million as refunds and $1.4 million as penalties for extreme delays in giving refunds to passengers for flights mostly cancelled during Covid. Apart from AI, the America’s department of transportation (DoT) has asked five more foreign airlines — Frontier, TAP Portugal, Aero Mexco, EI AI, and Avianca — to collectively pay $600 million in refunds and penalties.
“The US DoT… has determined that Air India routinely failed to provide timely refunds to passengers for flights to and from the US that the carrier cancelled or significantly changed.… Since March 2020… (we) received over 1,900 complaints (regarding AI refunds). AI’s stated policy has been to provide refunds to consumers for flights it cancelled or significantly changed. However, a review of the complaints filed with the department revealed that in practice AI took more than 100 days to process most of the refund requests that it received,” the DoT order dated November 14, 2022, says.
It adds that AI admitted failing to “provide timely refunds” to passengers who requested refunds and that the airline has been directed “to cease and desist from future similar violations.” Maharaja’s refund mostly cases date back from its penurious state-owned days. The Tatas took over the airline this January. Confirming the DoT fine, AI said in a statement: “We very much regret that customers were inconvenienced and accept the fine. Since AI was privatised in January 2022, every effort has been made to clear all backlogged refunds, with more than 2.5 lakh cases totalling $18.3 million successfully processed.”
“New systems have also been implemented to expedite the processing of new refunds which are now turned around, on average, within one week. We have publicly invited anyone who feels they have a refund due from Air India to contact us at ,” the AI statement added.
The airline has told DoT it has a “liberal refund-on-demand” policy. “AI asserts that it has waived applicable change, cancellation, and no-show penalties for ticket refunds worth over $98 million, resulting in passengers receiving full refunds who were not otherwise entitled to them. AI states that it faced extraordinary hardships during the early stages of Covid-19, including repeated closures of its India offices, border closures, and travel bans, which significantly hindered its ability to process refunds,” the order says.
“AI argues that because it did not mislead passengers about their rights and because its refund-on-demand policy is more liberal than that required by the regulation, its penalty should be reduced. Nevertheless, AI has agreed to this settlement in the interest of avoiding litigation,” it adds.
User•5 hours ago
Tata's have hard task to rebuild the reputation of Air India. The bureaucrats have messed up this lovely organistaion.
Sunny•USA•9 hours ago
Air India is the worst Airline but India like it as it is cheap. So no complain should be made. But Indian like cheap things that’s why u only see mostly Indian fly in that carrier whether from,USA or Australia or European countries as they do not care for safety or customer service or whether Air hostess or staff are rude and arrogant. As long Ratan is alive that’s long AI is alive as he bought just for his pride even though it is in big loss
• Sunny•6 hours ago
Its one of the best in my opinion. Worst can be spice jet. They made a pregnant female run for her test while she had the test report, permission to fly, they did not call doctor in the airport and they had already canceled her flight. This is worst. AI team would have donw the opposite, i am a witness to that.
User PURI•10 hours ago
Air India express has a staff of illiterate people. iI have still not got my refund Delhi Dubai. Could someone please educate the staff ( Priyanka ) duty manager T3 that Indian passport holders who have permanent residency for any E.U. country DOES NOT NEED a Visa for Dubai. Duty manager Priyanka did not give me a boarding card. I had to buy a Emirates ticket , one way to Dubai. This cost me an extra INR 50,000. The money has still not been reimbursed.
Ilias•USA•11 hours ago
At least someone else is looking after the affected AI passengers.
Logician•12 hours ago
PM Modi and BJP government made a complete mess economically not only inside India from more than 8 years and even spared airlines like Air India outside India. Apart from US God only knows how much more money due to the other countries.
User•12 hours ago
If Tata doesn't know aviation, then you don't know Tata.
Jaya•United States•13 hours ago
Shame on Modi Govt. Watching the show when passengers are being troubled
prashant parekh•13 hours ago
Ratan Tata has bought. a sick unit the diagnosis of which will take a decade and medicine two decades.
User•13 hours ago
Tell USA that money will be paid to Indian families of Unioncarbide victims.
Sudip•14 hours ago
Wait wait ... Modiji will talk with Joe ( Biden) in Bali, Indonesia!
User R•14 hours ago
Special thanks to Modiji for selling Air India to Tata. If he had sold airline to Adani, that means 100% deal beneficial to Adani.
Chill Pill•15 hours ago
Indians FULLY DESERVE their Politicians, Police and Judiciary.
Cactus•15 hours ago
How about American air lines ? Do they also pay ? US Judiciary has special like to penalise Indian corporates.
Chill Pill•15 hours ago
AI represents all that is Indian. Sab chalta hai attitude. The sad thing is that AI treats INDIANS the worst amongst all its customers. Filthy, third-class treatment, food and amenities. Of course, you should be at the gate for an AI flight departure in ANY airport to see the fun.. You will see the great Indian mentality at work.. Indisciplined, ghaaslet-line mentality, pushing, getting into the line anywhere, talking loudly on the phone endlessly, feet all over the seats in front, throwing around…
Prakki Satyamurty•Nidadavolu•15 hours ago
Tatas will definitely improve service and food in due course.
User Balabhadra•16 hours ago
Still waiting for full refund of our cancelled flight in January of this year..worst airline
Useroni•16 hours ago
US failed to grasp that poor treatment by Air India is an integral part of Indian culture, so punishing that poor treatment is an affront to Indian values. Those who use Air India expect to be mistreated and they embrace it out of patriotism. US government should not interfere.
User Yang•16 hours ago
It's good to see that someone is making the once derelict airline pay through it's nose for it's unprofessional conduct. Tata owned management must go after those govt staffers who kept sitting on these claims & putting all those customers to great unease due to their inaction so that these staffers get a taste of their own medicine when a part of these fines/penalties are deducted from their own salaries.
telveer•Hyderabad•16 hours ago
My mother in laws India-US flight got cancelled twice (Etihad). Each time, refund was processed within a week. Others that booked via AI had horror stories to share. I hope their service improves under TATA.
Surya•delhi•16 hours ago
poor ai have to pay so much due to forced cancellatins. but they can quickly recover this amount by running 30 additional flights to us
User Raykar•Canada•16 hours ago
I did not get a refund from American Airline during Covid times when they cancelled my flight. Instead they gave me a airline credit.
V•D•17 hours ago
My US flight was cancelled and I faced hardship to manage next day. But no compensation! Americans work for Americans only
•17 hours ago
This refund and penalties must come from govt of india who were running air india during the said period. Tatas must make it clear to US.
Vijay Desikan• Rakesh Koul•USA•13 hours ago
U.S. doesn't care who owned AI at that time. It is up to AI to refund the money, and get it back from Indian govt.
DINO KAPRI•17 hours ago
Air line must refund their customers.
Indian Abroad•3935• Indian Abroad•17 hours ago
Has the US refunded anything for killing thousands in Bhopal gas leakage tragedy by the US company Union Carbide?
Vijay Desikan•27477• User James•USA•12 hours ago
These are all mostly Indians and NRIs who booked on AI. USA is doing them a favor by forcing AI to get refunds.
Unknown•26•17 hours ago
Forget timely refund, they never refunded me the additional charges they took for rebooking flight when their policy clearly said that during covid no charges for rebooking…called and emailed their customer care atleast 30 times before giving up
Sandeep Negi•10931•17 hours ago
After repeatedly requesting for my refund, finally I send them a notice through consumer court. Let's see how it goes. It's almost 90 days now.