Air India has also begun ferrying in-flight meals for return journeys on some international routes such as Stockholm, Birmingham, Copenhagen and Madrid, rather than buying food items from local caterers at these locations.
National carrier Air India has now decided to let passengers bid for vacant seats in business class while booking an economy class seat. The airline has introduced a new bidding system through which flyers who booked economy class seats can upgrade the same to the business class by paying an additional fare, the airline’s chairman and managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola said Wednesday.
“You have to bid for only the incremental amount. Whatever you have paid for the economy class ticket, you have paid … There is a cap we have put on the minimum bid one can make…“People who have already booked tickets in economy class, we are giving them a chance to pay a little extra fare and come to the business class,” Korola told The Indian Express. In case the upgrade is not successful, the person who made the bid would get the money back, he added.
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US-based firm Optiontown is facilitating the bidding system, which has started for flights to the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. Further, he noted down that the bidding system may not lead to seats being sold at the best possible fare, but it can at least bring down the number of empty seats that fly on long-haul routes.
Meanwhile, Air India has also begun to ferry in-flight meals for return journeys on some international routes such as Stockholm, Birmingham, Copenhagen and Madrid, rather than buying food items from local caterers at these locations, Kharola said. The move is part of the airline’s efforts to bring down catering costs, which is currently about Rs 600 crore to Rs 800 crore annually.
The meals are carried from India in chillers and then these items are heated, whenever needed. In India, catering is about 3-4 times cheaper than catering at the above-mentioned locations, Kharola said. The national carrier is planning to begin serving food from India on its flights returning from the Gulf region too, over the next few months, he added.
“There are some flights like the ones going to Gulf, Singapore and even some parts of Europe, where it is possible to uplift the meals here (in India). Some work is going on in that direction,” he said.“The main thing is that the costs come down drastically,” Kharola pointed out, without disclosing the money the carrier would be saving with this step.