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Airlines jack up spot fare despite warning

All airlines on Sunday continued to charge exorbitant rates for lastminute bookings.

Ajmer Singh | December 6, 2010 | Updated 09:25 IST

A day after Union civil aviation minster Praful Patel promised "corrective action" to check unreasonable fare hikes by airlines, all airlines on Sunday continued to charge exorbitant rates for last minute bookings.

A visit to several ticket counters at Terminal 3 of Delhi airport revealed the obvious.

Jet Airways, just about two hours before departure, offered a full fare economy Delhi- Mumbai (7.45 pm) ticket at Rs  19,000. The airline, in order to cash in on the desperate latecomers, even offered ' flexi check in timing' less than 60 minutes before the flight.

Jet normally asks passengers to report two hours in advance.

Last-minute fares offered on Sunday(Dec 5)

  • Jet Airways charged Rs  19,000 for a full fare economy Delhi- Mumbai ticket on its 7.45 pm flight two hours prior to departure
  • The airline, which normally asks passengers to report two hours in advance, even offered ' flexi check in timing', ie less than 60 minutes before the flight
  • Jet charged Rs  18,417 for full fare economy ticket on the Delhi- Mumbai 8.35 pm flight in the afternoon
  • GoAir offered tickets at Rs  20,000 exactly 40 minutes before the flight
  • Air India economy class tickets for the 9 pm flight for the same destination, were available for Rs  14,200 about three hours before departure. The same ticket was charged only Rs  9,800 in the afternoon
  • Kingfisher refused to share details of last minute Delhi- Mumbai flight fares
  • All tickets for Delhi- Mumbai evening flights for the low cost carriers such as Indigo, GoAir, JetLite, SpiceJet were sold out

In the afternoon, Jet offered a full fare economy ticket at Rs  18,417 for the Delhi- Mumbai evening flight ( 8.35 pm). The morning flights were full.

A popular travel website offered economy class for Jet, for time slots (12 pm- 6 pm), at a price ranging between Rs  12,000 and Rs  16,000.

Air India's economy class ticket for the same destination, was available for Rs  14,200. This was offered about three hours before departure at 9 pm.

A travel website offered a reasonable fare of Rs  9,800 in the afternoon. And on Saturday, the evening flight for Mumbai was available at unbelievably low price of around Rs  6,500.

The officials at the ticket counters admitted that fare prices keep fluctuating.

Kingfisher's Delhi- Mumbai flight was sold out and officials at the counter refused to share details of last minute fares.

In the afternoon, economy tickets for the evening flight for Mumbai were available at a price range of Rs  12,000 to Rs  14,000.

All tickets for Delhi- Mumbai evening flights for the low cost carriers like Indigo, GoAir, JetLite, SpiceJet were sold out.

These carriers offered fares which were almost on a par with full service carriers, ranging between Rs  10,000 to Rs  16,000.

A frequent flier on the Delhi-Mumbai sector, Rahul Sidana, recounted his experience. He had planned to fly to Mumbai on November 16 at the last minute, but was forced to postpone it because of exorbitantly high fares. This is what he was offered: SpiceJet (SG103) at Rs  15,708, GoAir ( G8) at Rs  24,272.

What is more shocking is Azim Siddiqui's case. SpiceJet denied him entry on Sunday because he arrived 40 minutes before the scheduled takeoff time of 9.25 pm.

But GoAir was willing to accommodate passengers, subject to availability, exactly 40 minutes before the flight ( 10.40 pm Delhi- Mumbai) at a price of Rs  20,000.

Siddiqui said: " I had a Mumbai- Delhi refundable return ticket but was told it was of no value. They refused to refund and suggested me to buy another ticket for tomorrow, which was available at a price of Rs  11,000, that too one way." Siddiqui then decided to buy a GoAir ticket, available at Rs  9,000.

A few minutes after Siddiqui bought his GoAir ticket, the clerk at the counter told this correspondent there would be last- minute cancellations and tickets would be available 40 minutes before takeoff.

But the spot fare would be above Rs  20,000 for the Delhi- Mumbai at 10.40 pm.

This proves that the Union aviation ministry's threats had little effect on the airlines. An aviation analyst said Delhi- London return economy tickets, if booked in advance, is available at Rs  39,000.

It is shocking that domestic airlines are offering one- way ticket at Rs  25,000 for a Delhi- Mumbai flight.

To address these problems, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) will meet representatives of full service airlines on Monday.

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