Unhappy with airlines putting a large number of seats under the “privileged” category for which they can charge the fliers separately, the civil aviation ministry has asked the carriers to limit such seats.
Senior ministry officials met airline executives here on Friday and asked them to identify the rows of seats to be charged. The ministry, however, left it to the airlines to decide on the number of ‘paid seats’.
On April 29, the ministry allowed airlines to unbundle services such as preferential seating, meals and excess baggage and charge separately for them. The move came after AirAsia India got the nod to launch a local airline. Revenues from ancillary services constitute a significant proportion of revenues for low-cost carriers such as AirAsia.
The decision, the ministry hoped, would bring down the base fare as fliers would only be charged for the services they wanted. With some airlines tagging almost all seats as preferential, passengers are crying foul.
IndiGo and Jet Airways are already charging extra for preferred seating. Air India and Jet have slashed the free baggage allowance on domestic flights by 5 kg to 15 kg.
Airlines were also told to “reduce the gap between the highest and the lowest price buckets”, especially during peak season.