According to a recent news report, IATA Agents Association of India has requested the Civil Aviation Ministry to allow passengers a full refund of the ticketed value (including basic fare and fuel surcharges) of unutilised tickets as well as rescheduling travel dates by utilising total ticketed value or EMD as credit.
Considering the worldwide spread of Covid-19, the majority of the domestic and international passengers in the country are not in a position to prepare for a new travel plan immediately due to the prevailing uncertainty.
Biji Eapen, national president, IATA Agents Association pointed out that many Indian and foreign carriers including OTA’s are arbitrarily and illegally using the technical term “non-refundable” by taking advantage of force majeure clause as outlined in the Air Passenger Charter Act 2019. Worldwide governments encouraged flexibility for air passengers so that they can postpone or cancel their tickets with nil / less financial loss, he said.
The air passengers in India are facing the hardship of the extraordinary situation and consequential suspension of all domestic and international flights. The majority of the air tickets issued by travel agencies or directly bought by passengers through airline websites or Online Travel Agency (OTA) websites, usually fall under the lowest fare category with several terms and conditions including the “non-refundable” tag. And for processing the cancellation/refund/date change, passengers have to approach the same booking channels.
The DGCA had issued a circular to all airlines operating in India requesting to consider and take appropriate call for waiving the cancellation, reschedule charges or to provide any other incentive for passengers, and most of the airlines ignored the request, he added.