December 19, 2017 3:16:03 am
TRAVEL BOOKING websites have hailed the reduction in cancellation charges for domestic air tickets. The lower cancellation charges will enable flyers travelling on short routes to delay ticket cancellation without having to worry about losing money. On Monday, websites of many airlines that had listed a flat cancellation fee of Rs 3,000, displayed the revised cancellation charges — “Rs 3,000 or base fare plus fuel surcharge per passenger, whichever is lower”. This is likely to provide relief to passengers who buy cheap air tickets in advance, but end up losing money while cancelling them.
The change in rule comes after Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha recently voiced concern over Rs 3,000 domestic cancellation fee “being too high”. He had mentioned that in many cases, the cancellation fee exceeded the price of the ticket itself and had asked for the cancellation charges to be brought back into balance. The (DGCA) then wrote to airlines, asking them to provide data on cancellation charges. Rules do not allow the cancellation charge to be more than the sum of base fare and fuel surcharge.
“In a move that will definitely bring cheer to passengers, domestic airlines have revised their cancellation charges… They shall now charge the base fare plus fuel surcharge or Rs 3,000 per passenger, whichever is lower. This move will come as a respite for flyers, especially those who book their tickets well in advance in order to get cheaper prices. It will also benefit those who travel on shorter routes where ticket fare is lower than Rs 3,000… The move will also help in lowering customer grievances, which are largely around the issue of the quantum of charges levied on cancellations,” said Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com.
While websites of most airlines had earlier listed a flat cancellation fee of Rs 3,000, the policy has now being tweaked in accordance with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rule. Under the part II of Section-3 in civil aviation requirement (CAR) titled “Refund of airline tickets to passengers of public transport undertakings”, the rule, effective from August 1, 2016, says: “The issue of refund of tickets by airlines has become a major source of grievance amongst airline passengers. A large number of complaints are regularly received which can broadly be divided into the following categories: a) Delay in refund; b) Amount refunded; c) Policy of no refund of the ticket amount but to adjust against tickets to be purchased by the passenger for future travel.”
“Under no circumstances, the airline shall levy cancellation charge more than the basic fare plus fuel surcharge.The airlines shall not levy an additional charge to process the refund,” it says. John Nair, Head, Business Travel, Cox & Kings, said: “The DGCA move is welcome as it provides relief to travellers who book their tickets in advance. We believe that at least 10-15 per cent of the travellers book their tickets well in advance and they manage to buy tickets below Rs 3,000 due to spot sales by airlines. Unfortunately, they lose all their money if they cancel.”
“The higher cancellation fee would deter us often from cancelling our tickets, under the fear that we may have to shell extra amount… This decision will encourage us to cancel the tickets if there is a change in plans. We only expect to get at least a minimum amount in return after cancellation,” said Rujuta Joshi, who travels frequently to Pune from Mumbai on business trips. Airlines, including Indigo, Vistara and Go Air said their cancellation fee was always in accord with the DGCA rules.
“At Vistara, the cancellation fee has always been the lower of base fare (which includes fuel surcharge) or cancel fee. Taxes plus airport fees are always refunded… Travel agents may levy own service fee as well, which is not in our control… Vistara’s cancellation charges have always been compliant with the regulations. And we also have flex fares with nil change and cancel fees,” a spokesperson from Vistara airlines said. IndiGo’s terms and conditions for cancellation/ change fee was always in compliance with DGCA CAR Section-3, Series M, Part-II on “Refund of Airline tickets to passengers of public transport undertakings. There is no change in it.”
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