Monday, 27 October 2014

Airlines' special sales are a scam: Passenger association

The association has challenged the airlines to make public the seats that have been sold at discounted rates
Have you ever managed to book air tickets under one of those hefty discount schemes offered by airlines?

If the answer is a yes, please contact the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), the apex air travellers' body, which has shot off a complaint to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) claiming such schemes are fraudulent.

Alleging the airlines' discount schemes — wherein a single journey ticket is available for as less as Rs 899 — don't even exist, the association has asked the DGCA to ban such schemes altogether.

The APAI said on Sunday that it monitored the schemes offered by three leading domestic carriers — Indigo, SpiceJet, and Jet AirwaysJet Konnect — which had on Wednesday announced special fares for travel from November 1 to December 15.

The airlines offered one-way tickets priced between Rs 899 and Rs 1,799 on a few sectors provided they were booked between October 22 (Wednesday) and October 26 (Sunday).

The APAI said that it deputed three of its staffers to try and book the tickets, not just through the airlines' websites but also travel portals. "All we got was a 'sold out' response," APAI president D Sudhakara Reddy said.

The association has challenged the airlines to make public the seats that have been sold at discounted rates. "The DGCA must put an end to this practice of offering ridiculously low fares which are non-existent and are not really available to the passenger," Reddy said in his communication to the DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar.

Reddy said that the association was "forced to draw the DGCA's attention following several complaints from passengers". The association has said that several passengers have complained that they have been unable to access the airlines' websites after such discounts have been announced.

"In most cases, flyers don't get access to the airlines' portals. And if they are able to do so, the advertised special fare section always shows 'sold out'. Most of the times, all airlines' schemes are similar and the fares announced are also similar. How can this happen unless a cartel is working to fool the public?" Reddy asked.

While Indigo and Jet AirwaysJet Konnect officials didn't reply to emails and SMSes, the SpiceJet CEO, Sanjiv Kapoor, attributed a surge in air passengers to such schemes.

"Last month saw a 28% rise in air passengers compared to the previous year. In September 2013, 45.5 million people travelled by air, compared to 58.2 million in September this year. A lot of these passengers flew on tickets purchased through discount schemes," Kapoor said. DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar said he was yet to go through the APAI complaint, even as Reddy said the association will use the Right to Information Act if the DGCA didn't respond to its queries.