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‘Full refund only if ticket booked on airline website, app’

Free cancellation of airline tickets within 24 hours of booking, as proposed by the government, will be possible only when they are booked directly through the airline website or app and not through travel agents or popular travel portals, stakeholders have pointed out.

Airlines sought to make things clear hours after the Ministry of Civil Aviation came out with a draft passenger charter that, among others, has this passenger-friendly proposal.

Sanjiv Kapoor, Vistara’s chief strategy and commercial officer said: “Only bookings made through our website and app get free 24 hours change-or-cancel benefit. The change-or-cancel must be made through the common service centre.”

Since agents go through the global distribution system (GDS), which charges airlines for booking changes and cancellations, the benefit cannot be offered for bookings made through them, Mr. Kapoor pointed out.

Interestingly, Vistara said it has been offering free cancellations within 24 hours for the past several months, something that not many seem to know. The airline is now planning to publicise it using social media.

Reji Philip of Mumbai-based travel agency Cosmos said that because bookings made by agents went through GDS, the airlines incurred high GDS fees for every booking, change, or cancellation.

“These fees are not refunded to the airline, and in fact it costs more if a ticket is changed or cancelled,” Mr. Philip said.

Travel agents said a possible way out could be the creation of specific travel agent websites by airlines for bookings to be effected without the use of GDS.

While the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said it welcomed the draft air passenger charter, private carriers said the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) would respond after studying the draft.

“Consumer protection has been enhanced with significant compensation for airline service failures. But implementation is the key. Educating passengers about rights must be accompanied by oversight regime which ensures that airlines comply,” CAPA’s Kapil Kaul said.

Sudhakar Reddy, president of the Air Passengers Association of India, termed it the right move. “No cancellation fee on tickets cancelled within 24 hours of booking is good news. However, passengers should know that tickets booked for a flight which is in the next four days will not be a part of this new rule,” he pointed out.

BOX: Salient points

- Airlines can't keep passengers inside aircraft for more than two hours. They need to be deboarded, and after first hour need to be served snacks and beverage.

- If a passenger is deboarded because of overbooking he/she will get ₹5,000

- If a flight is delayed by 4 hours, airline needs to refund

- If delayed by 24 hours, hotel and transfers to be provided

- ₹3000 per kg for loss of baggage

- Airports need to provide minimum 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi

- Airports need to have washrooms even outside terminals

- All airlines should have meet-and-greet and one help desk

- Airlines to have seats that are acceptable to people with disabilities

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 12:41:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/full-refund-only-if-ticket-booked-on-airline-website-app/article23970758.ece

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