Amid widespread criticism against the government’s nod for unbundling of airfares by domestic carriers, a travel survey showed that a significant number of passengers are willing to spend a premium for certain services on board.
Of the 1,000 people polled by travel portal Skyscanner, 89% said they would be happy to spend up to Rs. 500 for a meal of their choice on board and 77% were willing to pay extra for customised beverages.
Similarly, 79% of respondents were willing to pay for seats with more legroom. The survey also found that 66% respondents were willing to pay to see a movie of their choice. The demand for wi-fi services on board was unanimous across all age groups, with 72% travellers willing to pay a fee for the service.
“Indian travellers are fast evolving towards international habits and purchase behaviour. The survey amplifies that Indians are in tune with international travel trends such as requiring wi-fi services to suit their personal communication devices such as smart phones and tablets,” said Kavitha Gnanamurthy, the market development manager with Skyscanner (India). She added that Indian travellers have now accepted spending extra on food and drinks on flights, which is a widely-accepted norm abroad.
However, almost contrary to the survey findings, the civil aviation ministry’s recent move of permitting airlines to charge separately for such services had witnessed opposition.
Following the government approval, Air India and Jet Airways, which collectively cater to almost 50% of domestic fliers, reduced the free check-in baggage limit from 20kg to 15kg last week. Both the airlines now charge Rs. 250 for every extra kilogramme.
No-frills carrier Indigo Airlines has also begun charging domestic fliers Rs. 500 and international fliers Rs. 800 for seats with better legroom.