Bad service spoils fun of low-cost air travel

Hyderabad: Low-cost airlines have made travel cheaper but there are many complaints against them. The largest number of complaints lodged with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is against Indigo Airlines followed by Spicejet.

A majority of the complaints are about rude or unprofessional behaviour of the staff. Air India was not too far behind in terms of providing bad service. Frequent cancellations, delays, and misinformation by staff are other common complaints.

Passengers also complain about the poor response when they enquire on the phone, promised services not being provided, and the long procedure involved in getting a refund or even denial of refund.

There are complaints about the airline not allowing passengers to board, though they have a valid ticket and checked in on time, because the flight has been overbooked. Loss of baggage for which compensation is not paid, or when paid, is very meagre, and pilferage of baggage has also been reported.

P. Basu had a bad experience with Indigo, travelling from Kolkata to Tirupati. “Tickets for three persons from Kolkata to Tirupati (via Bengaluru) cost me Rs 47,010 on Indigo for December 15. The PNR is ZKU4MK. The tickets were purchased with Indigo Promise which provides compensation for delays/cancellations.

“We reached Bangalore from Kolkata around 1 pm and were informed that the connecting flight to Tirupati was delayed till 5 pm. Post this, after every half hour we saw that the flight was getting delayed by an hour. After waiting till 6 pm when Indigo announced flight ETD was at 8.30 pm, we contacted the ground desk staff. At that point, we were informed that the flight was cancelled. All this while there was no indication from Indigo that the flight would be cancelled. To date, we have not received the full refund or any Indigo Promise Voucher. Complaining to customer relations and calling the contact number has not provided us with any response.”

Mr I. Krishna complained of the exorbitant price. “Spicejet charged exorbitant airfare for a short distance of less than 300 km. Spicejet charged `14,262 on Christmas day from Bengaluru to Thiruvananthamuram. Although I had booked very close to the travel date, the fare was very high and as a consumer, I was being exploited by the airline. When I contacted the airline they informed me that they cannot process my request as it is dynamic fare. My question is dynamic fare means exploitation of people by charging exorbitant fare?”

Mayank Gajera said his Air India flight was cancelled on January 9, 2019, and rescheduled on January 18, 2019. “The services provider intimated the same nine days prior to the scheduled flight. According to DGCA rules, it should be informed at least two weeks before the departure date. The airline is not listening to my request to claim the ticket fee.”

A senior officer of the DGCA explains what an aggrieved passenger can do. “As per the prevailing regulation, aggrieved passengers are required to lodge their complaints with the concerned airline. For timely redressal of passenger grievance, every airline appoints a nodal officer and appellate authority and displays their contact details on its website. If the airline fails to fulfil its obligations, the passenger may complain to the DGCA. The ministry of civil aviation has prepared a web portal and mobile application (air sewa) to facilitate grievance handling.”

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