Government reviewing IndiGo, SpiceJet web check-in fee for seats after complaints
IndiGo was responding to passengers who had questioned the low-cost airline’s move to levy a fee on web check-ins. In a series of responses to several tweets, IndiGo said that the seat fee policy had been revised effective November 14.Updated: Nov 26, 2018 15:49 IST
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is reviewing IndiGo and SpiceJet’s new policy to introduce a charge for passengers who check-in over the internet.
The ministry tweeted that it had noted that the airlines are now charging for web check-in for all seats. “We are reviewing these fees to see whether they fall within the unbundled pricing framework,” the ministry tweeted.
Unbundled pricing allows a flyer to choose and pay for the services the passenger avails instead of having to pay a larger amount for services that may not be availed.
The ministry’s tweet came after IndiGo tweeted on Sunday that “all seats will be chargeable” as per its new online check-in policy. However, check-ins at the airport will not be charged, it said, while responding to some tweets.
IndiGo was responding to passengers who had questioned the low-cost airline’s move to levy a fee on web check-ins. In a series of responses to several tweets, IndiGo said that the seat fee policy had been revised effective November 14.
“Please be advised that our seat fee policy has been revised, all seats will be available for pre-allocation at a nominal charge. We look forward to your understanding in this regard,” IndiGo tweeted from its official handle.
The airlines’ move doesn’t seem to have gone down too well with the people.
Another user @bapufin wrote, “it’s pathetic never expected after booking a ticket almost paying double price compared to normal price was asked to pay further fees for selecting seat for me & my 3 yrs old daughter. How can an airline charge for all the seat @sureshpprabhu @jayantsinha this not fair.”
Hey, Priyadarsi. So sorry you felt this way. Passengers may do web check-in & pre-select their preferred seats by paying applicable charges. Further, passengers may also get the seat without paying any charges, by reporting at the counter at least 2 hrs prior 1/2— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) November 24, 2018
We understand your concern. Please be advised that our seat fee policy has been revised, all seats will be available for pre-allocation at a nominal charge. We look forward to your understanding in this regard. ~Kritika— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) November 24, 2018
“You have started charging for even the web check in! Even the middle seats are not spared! Why don’t just increase price! This is daylight robbery!” wrote twitter dhakasandeep007.
@IndiGo6E this is horrible! You have started charging for even the web check in! Even the middle seats are not spared! Why don’t just increase price! This is daylight robbery!— Sandeep Kumar (@dhakasandeep007) November 24, 2018
Another user, Kiran Jupally wrote about how web check-ins were for convenience and asked how they could charge for a convenience. “People do web check in for convenience and it also saves time and money for both indigo and customer.”
People did not spare SpiceJet either.
Twitter user @CPKhandewal, wrote “Spice jet is making fool of flyers by not allowing web check in without , paying extra . They don’t even allow web check in without selection of seats. Ministry is requested to look into this complaint of arbitrary working.”
SpiceJet replied saying, “As of now, necessary charges are applicable if you wish to pre-book your preferred seat in advance. However, we have noted your feedback and shall share it with our team.”
In response Khandelwal wrote, “I was not doing web check in for any preferred seat, I just wanted to do web check in . These companies for making just Rs 150!extra, don’t hesitate to create inconvenience for the travellers. This is a wrong practice & regulators must look into this.”
By way of web check-in, passengers verify their presence on a flight online and seats can also be chosen.
Earlier, passengers were able to choose certain seats, including aisle seats, free of cost while making the selection online. Now, the airlines are charging for every seat selection made through the web.
Grappling with spiralling operational costs, airlines have been looking at ways to increase their revenues from ancillary services.
In the latest September quarter, all the three listed carriers -- IndiGo, SpiceJet and Jet Airways -- were in the red. IndiGo reported a loss at Rs 651 crore in the three months ended September, mainly impacted by high fuel cost and rupee depreciation.
IndiGo has released a statement clarifying its web check-in policy. In its statement, IndiGo stated that there has been no change in the airline’s web check-in practice.
Read IndiGo’s full statement below:
India’s largest low-cost carrier, IndiGo confirms that there is no change in the airline’s web check-in practice. Keeping in mind consumer preferences and market demand, IndiGo makes dynamic decisions about pricing for Advance Seat selection. This segmentation helps us to serve different customer segments as per their requirements. For instance, passengers who would prefer to have extra leg-room seats or would like to be seated together on a flight can make advance reservations and minimize any inconvenience of their preferred seats being not available when they arrive at the airport for check-in. Similarly, families or friends who would like to be seated together on a flight can make advance reservations and minimize any inconvenience of contiguous seats being not available when they arrive at the airport for check-in. The pricing of different seats is dynamic in nature and may vary based on aircraft type, length of the route, occupancy, days before departure etc.
This is to further clarify that IndiGo customers will NOT compulsorily have to pay for the seats. The pricing is only for advance selection of seats. When the customer checks-in at the airport, the seats would be assigned for free. That said, there is no guarantee that the seat of choice for the passenger would be available at the time of airport check-in. Advance selection for a small fee helps consumers reserve the seat of their choice on their flight.
While the preferred seat pricing starts as low as INR 100, there would be some seats that may be available for free depending on the market dynamics for the flight. Thus, there are some seats that are available for free at a certain time period before departure (e.g. 1 day before departure) or on certain aircraft type (e.g., ATR operated flights). If the passengers have no particular preference for seats and would not like to pay for advance seat selection, they can either reserve any free seats available at the time of web check-in or will, of course, be assigned seats at the time of airport check-in.
This is a common practice followed by airlines across the globe. The customers can always obtain the seat at the airport kiosk check-in or counter, though this may not guarantee that they would be assigned the seat of their choice.