While the uncertainty over the status of scheduled flights due to the Coronavirus outbreak looms large, most airline companies seem helpless about the situation and are not waiving off the domestic flight cancellation charges. With new advisories coming in from the Government of India every now and then to curb the spread of Coronavirus, both customers and Airline companies find themselves in a tough spot and are unable to take a definite decision.
Nevertheless, several customers who have booked their flights during these unsettled times, seem to be furious over being unable to reach customer care numbers of Airline companies. Travelers are also hoping for a full refund upon cancellation of tickets, and are also requesting the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to look into the matter.
“I have booked round trip tickets from Delhi-Jammu-Delhi for 22nd Mar and back on 24th Mar. But due to Coronavirus scare I want to cancel my tickets. Today when I tried to call customer care, none of the numbers are picking up saying they have huge call volumes. And online cancellation is showing zero refund. Date change option is of no good to me as tickets were for Vaishno Devi trip and I’m not sure when will I get chance to visit again. A sector change would have been of some respite but no such option is available. Booking was done through Makemytrip from two different airlines. Now I’m stuck and about to lose all my money,” says Roopa on DataQuest.
“We had to cancel our trip to Chennai on 14/3/20 due to the corona outbreak. The airlines don’t even bother to inform the customer that it has to be cancelled before 72 hours and they’re not giving 100% free cancellation or rescheduling. The ministry has to be more stern towards the airlines. I didn’t even get 20% of the total amount. Total apathy from the airlines. We pay taxes from all corners and end up loosing even more. There is no clear statement from the ministry or the airlines,” says Divya Prakash.
Passengers are also upset about the fact that they have lost nearly half the amount they originally paid for their tickets as domestic flight cancellation charges. “I had booked for 22 March from Visakhapatnam to Delhi and return from Chandigarh to Visakhapatnam on 9 April paid about Rs 10,000. On enquiring about refund after cancellation as I am a senior citizen and my tours are cancelled due to Coronavirus, I am informed that cancellation charges of Rs 3150 per sector which will be total Rs 9450 plus GST five percent that will be around zero refund. They are quoting the regular cancellation charges and do not have any consideration for the situation at hand. This is very shallow thinking. I had to be online waiting for more than one hour and then some more and was not provided the opportunity to talk to a senior person. Airlines need to step up to the plate and do better,” says Kumari Voleti.
However, what seems to have made the situation all the more complicated is the Janata Curfew on 22 March 2020 and the Delhi Government announcing the suspension of all domestic and international flights into the Union Territory from 23 to 31 March 2020. Airline companies have also reported experiencing five times the call volumes and a higher number of social media mentions.
What Airline Companies are Providing on Domestic Flight Cancellation due to Coronavirus Crisis
While airline companies are still not providing a full refund, GoAir has forwarded an email to its customers stating that for new and existing bookings of travel between 19 March and 15 April 2020 there was “no need for the passenger to call GoAir or their travel agent prior to departure. Passengers could simply not show up for their flight, and still
- All tickets would be protected and passengers can reschedule their travel without any fees for up to one year from the original date of travel
- The new ticket will be issued for the same passenger name for any GoAir flight (not necessarily the original sector the passenger booked their ticket on) without any rescheduling fee. Fare differential, if applicable, would be applied.”
Furthermore, the mail also mentions that for new bookings of travel between 15 April and 30 September 2020: Rescheduling charges will be waived to reschedule the ticket for any flight until September 30 (Passenger name and sector have to be the same). Passengers may reschedule their tickets through the “Manage Booking” option on the website or by calling the contact centre at 1800 2100 999.
As far as Air Asia is concerned, the company had tweeted earlier today that “We understand your travel plans may be disrupted. Please share your rescheduling or cancellation requests on https://air.asia/Vt9rc so we can attend to you. Cancellation and no-show charges are waived for all flights today (22 March 2020). Rescheduling fees are waived till 31 March.” However, the company is yet to make an announcement on the flights to New Delhi being cancelled from 23 to 31 March 2020.
The rest of the airline companies in India are yet to make an announcement on the latest developments.
Update: All domestic flights have been canceled from 25 March 2020 on the orders of the aviation ministry. Although an official word from airlines is still expected, airline companies are expected to offer either a rescheduling or a full refund in the form of credit points, which can be used up to one year to reschedule flights with the same airlines. More details on the same will be updated when available.