The Centre has convened a conference on November 8 with top officials from all airlines and travel portals to consider allegations such as a refund not being provided after ticket cancellation’ and presenting every seat as ‘purchased’ despite free online check-in, among other things.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) received 6,644 complaints concerning airline service in February 2023. This was a 38.6% decrease from the 10,822 complaints received in January 2023. The February amount, however, was still 77.9% greater than the 3,735 airline complaints received in the same month previous year.
IndiaOne Air, an Indian regional airline located in Ahmedabad, got the most complaints in March 2023, with over six for every 10,000 passengers.
In a media conference, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said that the government’s National Consumer Helpline received over 10,000 complaints concerning the airline industry in the previous year.
“About half of the complaints are related to tickets canceled but no refund received from airlines. Some of the major grievances also include airlines showing every seat as paid despite free mandatory web check-in,” he said.
“These complaints are just a tip of the iceberg. We have called a meeting on November 8 to discuss these consumer grievances with all airlines, travel portals, and consumer organizations,” Singh said.
He said that the department has noted that many customers are dissatisfied with the interface and believe they have been “misled and cheated” while ordering a ticket via airline websites or travel marketplaces.
“Airlines say ‘free web check-in’ but ‘seats are paid’. Once a traveller has paid the fare and the airlines has issued a confirmed ticket then all the services have to be fair and to the advantage of the consumers. You cannot take consumers to a ride,” he said.
The ministry has nothing to do with the business model of airlines or travel companies, but “We are saying that when a consumer has a confirmed ticket then he should not put to further inconvenience in form of these things (paid seat) which are making life difficult for air travellers”.
According to the secretary, air travel has increased, and many individuals are impacted as a result of such trade practices.
“We hope that we will be able to persuade and convince the airlines and travel companies in case they are indulging in some practices which is not fair they should refrain from doing it,” he added.