Calling off air travel plans at the last minute has become three times more expensive as compared to just about two years ago. According to data available with travel operators, the cancellation charges rose from Rs 750 to anything between Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,250 during this period.
The steep hike in cancellation charges could dissuade a considerable section of fliers from booking air ticket, said travel operators. “The domestic aviation scenario in India has never ceased to surprise its consumers. It is so dynamic that it has become hard to keep pace with and recall the air fare or the cancellation charges that was incurred in your last trip,” said Indiver Rastogi, chief operating officer and head of corporate travel, Thomas Cook India Ltd. He added although airlines slashed fares to improve loads, most or all of them have raised the cancellation charges by 50-100%.
Indigo Airlines, which caters to almost four out of 10 domestic fliers in the country, recently revised its cancellation policy. According to the new policy, a passenger cancelling a ticket more than a month before the date of travel will be charged Rs 1,250. But the traveller will have to pay Rs 2,250 if the ticket is cancelled up to 48 hours before the journey.
Travel operators fear the trend might hurt business fliers and a section of leisure travellers. “Small and medium entrepreneurs are most likely to be impacted. Some leisure travellers might also become wary of booking, courtesy the high penalty,” said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com.
Data analysis also showed that now cancellation charges account for almost one-fifth of the cost of an air ticket. “The cancellation policy will certainly see an impact, especially from business travellers who book within the three to four-day timeframe and make impatient last minute holiday-goers more watchful about their travel plans,” added Rastogi.