Lockdown: Thousands seek refund from Air India

Coronavirus Lockdown: Thousands seek refund from Air India

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Online travel agencies (OTAs) were bombarded with thousands of queries regarding the refund of ticket amount towards the cancellation of flights by national carrier Air India. The airline, as on Tuesday, was holding an estimated Rs 500 crore refund amount.

Thousands of passengers have been waiting for refunds since the imposition of lockdown on March 25. Despite the ministry of civil aviation directing the airlines to refund the ticket amount as flights were cancelled following the imposition of lockdown, Air India has not refunded the amount to passengers.

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The airline did not respond to either email queries or phone calls. On Tuesday, Air India cancelled as many as 34 flights for travel up to May 31, thereby causing a severe inconvenience to passengers.

According to Nishant Pitti, CEO, easemytrip.com, more than 3,000 passengers approached them asking for refunds. “If flights (by Air India) are not operated why you want to keep our money?” a customer said in their complaints on the platform.

Over 70% of the complaints received on the platforms of online travel agencies on Tuesday were pertaining to Air India. Easemytrip.com received more than 3,000 customer queries seeking a refund on Tuesday.

“Air India does not have a policy of refunds. Even if airlines cancelled their flight due to operational reasons, why customers will buy tickets from Air India? Even if you book a ticket for September 5 and want to cancel and get a refund after paying cancellation charges, you can’t get a refund from Air India,” Pitti said.

Additionally, when all other airlines sales and back-office teams are ensuring that proper support is provided 24x7, Air India personnel are not even taking calls post 6 pm, he said.

“It is high time that Air India gets outside aviation experts on board to streamline their operations and avoid such blunders or they should outsource their management control to a low-cost operator to fix the glitches in the system,” Pitti added.

Passengers are shying away from making reservations on Air India, since no refunds have been processed by Air India during the lockdown period without waivers. Alternatively, time only up to September 30, 2020, has been given to rebook the tickets. Passengers are demanding refunds, the TAAI said in its letter.

 

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