Forty-two domestic airlines in the past week have announced policies for compensating passengers in the event of flight cancellations or delays, with eight offering no reimbursement to customers under any circumstances.
A national regulation came into effect on Jan 1 requiring domestic airlines to publish policies regarding delays and cancellations.
Previously, airlines were not obligated to disclose their policies, according to Li Xiaojin, a professor of aviation economics at the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.
According to the regulation, when a delay or cancellation is a result of weather conditions or air traffic control, rather than the fault of the airlines, the companies should help arrange accommodation for the passengers, though the cost is to be covered by the passengers.
If the airlines are responsible for the delay, due to flight maintenance, for example, 19 airline companies, including Air China and China Southern Airlines, offer 200 yuan ($29) for delays between four and eight hours and 400 yuan for delays longer than eight hours.
China Eastern Airlines and two other companies offer “at least 400 yuan” when the delay exceeds eight hours.
Eight companies offer a maximum of 300 yuan and four airlines offer at most 200 yuan.
Eight companies, including Spring Airlines and West Air, offer no compensation at all under any circumstances.
Li said the difference among the airlines is to be expected as those offering higher compensation normally operate flights with longer routes, and the ticket prices are higher than the budget airlines, which offer little or no compensation.
“With the compensation policies becoming transparent, the customers are better informed when they buy tickets and can make choices according to their willingness to pay,” Li said.
Li said the regulation doesn’t affect additional insurance customers can buy for themselves. The insurance for flight delay or cancellation usually costs 20 to 30 yuan in China and the compensation ranges from 100 to 300 yuan.