It is time to crack down on misleading air fares
Using a small asterisk for a footnote or details in “terms and conditions” airlines slap taxes, fees and other surcharges on unsuspecting customers in addition to advertised fares. Pushpa Girimaji comments.india Updated: May 31, 2009 23:38 IST
You may not be planning a holiday in Europe this summer, but you will certainly start thinking along those lines when you see travel portals offering return tickets at rates that are cheaper than a one-way domestic ticket from say, Delhi to Bangalore.
Who will not be tempted by a return airfare from Mumbai to London at Rs 6,900? But your dreams of a holiday in London would surely be shattered when you actually try to book your ticket — the cheapest non-refundable e-ticket turns out to be not Rs 6,900, but Rs 24,088. (Rs 9,000 in fare and Rs 15,088 taxes).
Similarly, the Rs 17,990 return ticket from Delhi to New York actually becomes Rs 40,385 (Rs 22,500 air fare and Rs 17,885 tax).
Your experience will not be so different when you visit the Internet sites of international airlines. Using a small asterisk for a footnote or details in “terms and conditions” airlines slap taxes, fees and other surcharges on unsuspecting customers in addition to advertised fares.
This is despite a recent amendment to Rule 135 (Tariff) of the Aircraft Rules , which makes it obligatory on the part of all airlines — both domestic and international — to indicate the tariff in a manner that gives the consumer the total picture.
Whether it is an advertisement or a website or an air ticket, the airline has to give the total amount payable by a consumer and the break up of the fare including fees, taxes and surcharge.
So in addition to complaining about such airline websites to the Civil Aviation Ministry, consumers should start protesting about travel portals that deliberately mislead consumers on fares and threaten to boycott such sites. They can also take them to consumer court for unfair trade practices.
I must also mention here that in a circular issued on May 11, the Office of the Director General of Civil Aviation has advised all airlines to comply with the revised provisions of the Aircraft Rules and mention the tariff only in the format required under the rules.
Contravention of these provisions is punishable in accordance with Schedule VI of these Rules, the circular has said. It is time to hold airlines and agents who mislead the public accountable for their cheap tricks.