In 2004, the CAAC promulgated rules that mandate that airlines compensate passengers who are delayed for more than 4 hours. However, those rules, in 《航班延误经济补偿指导意见》, did not provide any details on the amount, means, or enforceability of that compensation. Recently, the China Air Transport Association has promulgated a provisional regulation that outlines those areas. The document “Provisional Air Transport Service Rules for Service and Compensation on not-as-scheduled flights” 航空运输服务质量不正常航班承运人服务和补偿规范(试行), outline compensation and service standards in the case of  not-as-schedule flight. (Anyone have a better way to translate 不正常It literally means “not normal.”)

The rules propose compensation for delays which are attributable to the airlines, e.g. flight plan, maintenance, flight deployment, transportation services and crew troubles. If the delay lasts four to eight hours, airline companies are required to provide ticket discounts, equivalent mileage accumulation or other compensation worth 300 yuan or 200 yuan in cash. If the delay is longer than eight hours, airline companies are required to provide ticket discount, equivalent mileage accumulation or other compensation worth 450 yuan or 300 yuan in cash. (Stealing a joke from Shanghaiist: I hope that the “other compensation” is not free tickets to the expo.)

However, delays attributable to the following non-carrier problems will not be compensated – weather, emergencies, air traffic control, passengers’ security inspection,  and public safety. As the vast majority of delays in China are attributed to its schizophrenic division of air traffic services by the military, or the weather, I doubt this policy will see much effect.

Finally, as it is an industry promulgated policy, which is not binding in a legal sense, airlines are free to ignore it. Indeed, Shanghai’s Spring Airlines (a ultra-low cost carrier) has decided not to participate in the policy. Indeed, it may even be ignored by the industry association that promulgated the policy. The CATA is no longer advertising its existence and has removed the press release from its website.

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