Flight Plan

Your flight was cancelled but your boss thinks you are making it up

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on November 24, 2020

Airlines issue flight delay/cancellation certificates for those looking to furnish proof

You are rushing to catch a flight to attend an important meeting out of town. But just as you head out to the airport you get a message that your flight has been cancelled or combined with another flight and you will not be able to make it in time for the meeting.

How will you explain what happened, to your boss? Approach the airline you are flying and chances are that it will confirm the facts and help you convince your boss, so the blame for being delayed does not fall on you.

This might seem to be a small issue for those who do not mind getting delayed but both airlines and demanding flyers take cancellations and combining of flights seriously.

According to William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo, customers do ask for delay or cancellation certificates.

“It could be for insurance claim purposes or to provide proof for the workplace. We provide these certificates on request after investigating as to why the flight was delayed. We do not charge for it,” Boulter says. Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara, points out that if it is delay, rescheduling or cancellation that is done ahead of time and not a last-minute change, Vistara notifies passengers by SMS and email, and by calling up, in some instances.

“If a passenger needs it for further use... like to claim leave, or to place an insurance claim then we do issue letters on request. But we do not issue letters to everyone unless they are asked for. What we do is, we contact them as we do not know the purpose of the customers’ travel; whether it is for leisure or business. Once we send out a notification, the customer is free to contact us and the ground services team can issue a certificate or letter to confirm that a particular flight was delayed or cancelled. This happens when it is pre-scheduled or something which is done in advance,” he says.

Airlines claim that these certificates are mostly used to claim insurance although some use them to show their employers in case they need to claim additional leave because they were delayed.

Some also ask for these certificates for hotel cancellations due to delayed flights.

“In India, to a large extent even today, there are not too many customers who take insurance on domestic travel. They mostly do it for international,” says an industry watcher.

Travel insurance is more prevalent globally and most insurance companies require a letter from the airline as proof that the flight was cancelled or rescheduled. A flyer can contact the airline and the airline issues the letter. “If insurance companies are involved they normally want proof from the source which, in this case, is the airline,” the industry watcher adds.

Extraordinary circumstances

Most airlines in India do not ask passengers what they are using the certificates for. “What we assume is that it is for one of these reasons. Sometimes, since it is post facto, there is no harm in our stating the facts,” Kannan says.

Nripendra Singh, Industry Principal, Aerospace, Defense & Security Practice, Frost & Sullivan, adds that airlines issue a delay/cancellation certificate in case they encounter “extraordinary circumstances.”

“Extraordinary circumstances are a set of conditions that prevent flight operations despite measures taken by the airline to avoid disruption,” he explains.

Strikes (union or airport), ATC restrictions (like runway closures), political/civil unrest, security threat, bird strike, hidden manufacturing defect, and medical emergencies (may vary from case to case) fall under extraordinary circumstances.

Airlines, by and large, issue these certificates if they feel the flight delay/cancellation is beyond their control. “This is used to notify that they will not refund the flight ticket. However, passengers are given the option to reschedule,” adds Singh.

Published on November 24, 2020

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