Booking in advance for cheap flight tickets? Check the fine prints first

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Updated: Jan 03, 2019 5:01 PM

It is extremely important to check the fine prints, especially the cancellation policy, while you book flight tickets in advance or grab a deal of cheap flight tickets.

airlines, flight bookings, advance flight bookings, cheap flight tickets, akhanda mandir, Haflong, Assam, Silchar, Silchar-Delhi direct flight, Jet Airways, cancellation policy, fuel surcharge, GST, Hospitalisation Policy, refund on cancelled flight tickets, fine prints, temple for congregational prayers, Dima Hasao, North Cachar HillsReflection of the illuminated Akhanda upasana mandir, the temple for congregational prayers, in the lake at Haflong.

On the first day of New Year, Amit (name changed) had a plan to attend, along with family members, the opening ceremony of a beautiful temple built for congregational prayers on the hills near the bank of a lake at Haflong town, the headquarter of Dima Hasao (formerly North Cachar Hills) in Assam. Accordingly, rail bookings were made to reach the hill station via Guwahati.

With his daughter having winter vacation at that time and her maternal uncle’s home at Silchar only 2-3 hours journey from Haflong, she was scheduled to visit her uncle along with her mother and grandfather. To make the January 11 return journey convenient for them, bookings were done in advance in November through Silchar-Delhi direct flight operated by Jet Airways for three persons costing Rs 12,540.

Subsequently, the entire trip was canceled following the hospitalisation of Amit’s father and owing to his vulnerable health conditions. As a result, Amit was trying to cancel the air tickets, and while doing so, it was showing a refund amount of only Rs 174 out of Rs 12,540. Startled by the quantum of the refund amount, he lodged his grievance via AirSewa, and in reply, the airline said they may refund a higher amount through their “Hospitalisation Policy” only if the passenger in question or his/her spouse or a child remains hospitalised for more than 48 hours, including the day of journey.

The mistake made at the time of booking was getting distracted by the flashing of a message saying there will be 100 per cent refund on cancellations made within 24 hours of booking. What should have done on his part was to go through the fine prints containing the cancellation policy beyond 24 hours of booking. But, still, getting a refund of just Rs 174 out of Rs 12,540, which is less than 1.4 per cent, looks like a joke and serves no purpose to cancel the booking.

So, it is extremely important to check the fine prints, especially the cancellation policy, while you book flight tickets in advance or grab a deal of cheap flight tickets.

However, while making such a cancellation policy, airlines should realise that even if they pay a substantial amount, say around 40 or 50 per cent, a passenger would cancel the ticket and they may book another passenger at an incremental fare, thus increasing their revenue. If a person doesn’t cancel due to meagre refund amount, along with the loss the passenger suffers, it is a loss of opportunity for the airline also. Or the airlines are so frightened that they don’t want to refund any cancellation amount fearing that the seat would remain empty? If so, the government should do something to restore their confidence.

Apart from airlines, the government should also rethink about the policy of not refunding the fuel surcharge, GST and other fees, when a passenger cancels his or her ticket and doesn’t use fuel and other services. Is there any logic in charging a person taxes and fees for services that he or she hasn’t availed or penalising the person for intending to avail the services?

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