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CORONAVIRUS CONFUSION

These are the cancellation and rescheduling polices of Indian airlines amid Covid-19

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Clueless.
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Aviation and social media reporter

Indian airlines are being flooded with queries from anxious customers seeking cancellation of tickets that were booked before coronavirus spiralled in the country. Since then, the government has imposed various travel bans and restrictions.

Yesterday (March 17), India’s largest airline, IndiGo, said it had seen an over 500% increase in queries through calls and emails in the past few weeks.

On social media, too, there is an outburst of disgruntled customers seeking clarifications from airlines about the status of their cancellation requests.

If you’re among these aggrieved customers, here’s a complete guide to the cancellation policies and processes of various Indian airlines to help ease your frustration:

IndiGo

The airline has introduced “Plan B” that allows customers to change the time and date of their travel, or cancel bookings, at no additional cost. The airline also promises to “quickly process refunds” for all cancellations.

IndiGo launched the plan soon after the aviation regulator’s March 15 decision to ask all international airlines to consider waiving rescheduling fees. “When we have had to cancel flights due to any government intervention, on account of visa policies or similar, we give our customers full refunds,” the carrier said in a statement.

The airline has laid out scenarios including cancellation of booked flights, or delay in departures, where the above policy applies.

Vistara

The airline is not charging any rescheduling fee for customers who alter their time/date of travel, but flyers will have to pay the difference in ticket prices.

On March 12, the Gurugram-based airline warned its customers of delays in responses due to the heavy load of queries that it’s dealing with, and requested them to stay calm. Five days later, possibly still inundated, the company clarified its terms and conditions on Twitter:

SpiceJet

The carrier is waiving off fee for changing time and date of travel, but with conditions.

For domestic flights, SpiceJet bookings made till March 13 with travel date before the end of this month can be shifted to any date until April 30 without charges. The airline, however, will charge the fare difference.

In the case of domestic cancellations, SpiceJet has not made any special provisions in the current scenario and is continuing to charge customers as per its regular policy.

For international bookings, the same conditions apply on rescheduling. But for cancellation of tickets, foreign nationals who booked to travel to India on SpiceJet, can avail full refund for travel between March 13 (1200hrs GMT at the port of departure) and April 15, as per the company’s website.

Additionally, any foreign national coming to India with a different carrier and booked on a domestic route on SpiceJet from March 13 (1200hrs GMT at the port of departure) till April 15 will be eligible for a full refund.

GoAir

Yesterday (March 17), the airline suspended its international operations and is now allowing passengers to reschedule their flights without a fee.

The offer remains valid for passengers who planned to travel between March 8 and April 30, and want to reschedule 14 days prior to their departure dates.

The customers can make a change in travel plans till Sept. 30 without a fee.

Air India

The state-owned carrier has announced a “One Free Change” (pdf) for the passengers to postpone any international or domestic bookings.

The offer is valid for all existing bookings with travel date till April 30 and new bookings made till the end of this month. It should also be noted that the airline is allowing modifications on all bookings till 72 hours prior to departure. And the tickets should be rescheduled on or before March 31.

Ground reality

Despite airlines’ many claims, the ground reality seems to be different.

Many customers took to social media to raise their concerns and to highlight the striking difference between the policies and reality. A majority of them claimed to have requested airlines to waive off cancellation fee and not just the rescheduling charges.

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