Air tickets hard to cancel

Air tickets hard to cancel

Fliers are finding it difficult to get refunds. Airlines are pushing them to reschedule their trips

With the government asking people to avoid unnecessary travel, many who had booked air tickets are trying to cancel their tickets. But that is not easy.

Many airlines are refusing refunds and urging passengers to change their travel dates, and pay higher fares.

“We had planned a family trip, and we had booked tickets on different airlines as we were coming from different places. It has been difficult just getting through to customer care,” says Sneha J, event planner, living in Halasuru.

She had approached an airline seeking a cancellation a week ago, and was told to wait as she could cancel her trip free of cost for up to four hours before the flight. However, she says, the airline is not complying with her request now.

“With a second airline, it took me three days just to get through. They would just not agree to a cancellation…. they just kept pushing for rescheduling. They said since they haven’t cancelled their flights, and are not going to refund the amount. What I don’t understand is how they can force us to pay for a flight that could potentially put our lives at risk. The manager told me the situation would change in four to five months, citing the ebola pandemic,” she says.

Sneha is not the only one. Many angry customers have turned to social media to vent their anger. Some can’t travel because they are elderly, and hence more susceptible to the Covid-19 virus. Airlines aren’t waiving their cancellation fee in most cases. Airlines respond with the same generic responses, or not respond at all, leaving passengers anxious. 

“I understand their situation, but this is not the time to think of profit. Besides, you can’t just line your pockets with other people’s hard-earned money,” says another passenger trying to get a refund. 

Those who had chosen to make bookings via travel portals are also the two keep passing the buck to each other.

Airlines cut trips, salaries

Last week, GoAir announced a layoff for expat pilots, and IndiGo declared a pay cut for senior employees. 

Citing an unprecedented decline in air travel,GoAir announced the suspension of international operations and offered rotational leave without pay for its staff.

Meanwhile, in an e-mail to IndiGo employees, CEO Ronojoy Dutta said, “With the precipitous drop in revenues, the very survival of the airline industry is now at stake... We have to pay careful attention to our cash flow so that we do not run out of cash.”

“With a great deal of reluctance and a deep sense of regret, we are therefore instituting pay cuts for all employees, excluding Bands A and B--the lowest bracket in salary class--starting April 1,” he said. Most employees fall in the two categories that will face the brunt of the salary cut.

Air India said on Friday it was taking various cost-cutting measures, including cutting allowances for staff (except cabin crew) by 10 per cent for three months. It cited an “insurmountable dip” in revenues.

IndiGo, at the moment, is operating 25 per cent fewer domestic flights now. As of March 19, shares of SpiceJet and InterGlobe Aviation (the parent company of IndiGo) had plunged 46 per cent in a week. 

With many countries, including India, imposing travel restrictions, the aviation industry is one of the most hard hit. In the next few days, some airlines may choose to suspend operations. This would reduce their losses they would incur than if they continue to operate.

Customer care unavailable

Metrolife tried contacting the customer care numbers of these airline companies, but it yielded no results. Calling GoAir resulted in a busy tone, while no one responded when we called IndiGo. The Vistara customer care came up as busy, despite calling repeatedly. 

 

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