Airlines have been flooded with queries from concerned customers seeking a refund on cancellation of their flight tickets booked before all international and domestic flights were cancelled. Earlier, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) banned all flight operations in the country till April 14 due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It also asked airlines to waive off domestic flight cancellation and rescheduling fee.
Most airlines have promised to protect customers' interest in the best possible manner.
However, none of the airlines have offered to refund any money so far. They have provided various options like rescheduling dates and offering credit notes. Concerned customers seeking a refund on cancellation of flight tickets have flooded with social media and airlines customer support with queries.
IndiGo, India's largest airline, said that it had seen more than 500 per cent increase in queries through emails and calls in the last few week.
Here's what airlines are offering:
Air India: The state-owned carrier has announced a "One Free Change" for the passengers to postpone any domestic or international bookings. The offer is valid for all existing bookings with travel date till April 30 and for new bookings made till the end of March.
IndiGo: The airline has introduced a 'Plan B' which allows customers to change the date and time of travel or even cancel bookings at no additional cost. The airline has also promised to 'quickly process refunds' for all ticket cancellations. However, in case of higher fare, the fare difference will apply.
"When we have had to cancel flights due to any government intervention, on account of visa policies or similar, we give our customers full refunds," the company statement said.
SpiceJet: The carrier is waiving off the fee for altering date and time of travel, but with some conditions. For domestic flights, bookings made till March 13 with the date of travel before the end of this month can be postponed to any date until April 30. The airline will charge for the difference in fare prices. The same conditions apply on rescheduling international bookings too.
In the case of domestic cancellations, SpiceJet had not made any special provisions and is charging as per its regular policy. But for international tickets' cancellation, foreign nationals can avail full refund for travel between March 13 (1200 hrs GMT at the port of departure) and April 15.
Vistara: The Gurugram-based airline is not charging for any rescheduling fee to alter time/date of travel, but the customers have to pay the difference in prices. The airline, on March 12, informed its customers of delays in responses as it's been dealing with a heavy increase in queries. Five days later, possibly still inundated, the company clarified its terms and conditions:
If your ticket is issued on/before 31-Mar for travel commencing on/before 30-Apr, you may opt for an alternate travel date till 31-Dec, with no change fee. Fare difference will apply. For CV members, tier status re-evaluation will be paused from 18th Mar - 30th Apr. pic.twitter.com/K5VwfoI5eE- Vistara (@airvistara) March 17, 2020
GoAir: The airline is allowing passengers to reschedule their flights without a fee. For the travel date between March 19, 2020, till April 15, 2020, passengers can reschedule their travel plans, without any charges, for up to one year from the initial date of travel. For travel date between April 15, and September 30, "you can reschedule your travel without any date change charges. Only fare difference will apply," the airline said.
Air Asia: Customers who have booked tickets on or before March 23, 2020, for travel between March 23 and May 31, can reschedule their bookings without any charge and fare difference for the same route. However, charges will apply in case of cancellation.
Credit Account is a faster and a more convenient way to redeem! Know how to convert your flights to credits and use it to book a new flight within 365 days via AVA, through this guide. T&C apply. Know more here: https://t.co/eCsSh0CaqApic.twitter.com/0w7gfgb7Ln- AirAsia (@AirAsia) March 25, 2020