MUMBAI, India – As airlines go along offering heavy discounts on airfares, they are also setting up major deterrents to cancellations. Jet Airways on Tuesday revised its cancellation charges and created a bigger disincentive for buyers of cheap tickets to change their mind.
Abandoning the earlier flat cancellation penalty of Rs 1,050 on all domestic sector flights, the airline will now charge penalties ranging from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000. According to travel agents, as per Jet Airways’ new structure, the higher the fare, the lower will be the cancellation charge.
The lowest economy fare tickets will be non-refundable. The tickets priced a little more than the cheapest would attract a cancellation charge of Rs 2,000; the upper economy Rs 1,000; and premium class tickets the lowest penalty of Rs 250 to Rs 500.
“This is how most cancellation charges are slotted broadly. There are minor variations depending on the flights passengers book,” said Ali Ahmed of Cupid Travels. “On the whole, the economy traveller will pay higher cancellation charge. The cheaper tickets come with a heavy clause.”
A Jet Airways spokesperson said the charges have not been increased on an ad-hoc basis. “The charges depend on the kind of fare and flight. There is a range of penalty.”
Tour operators said the move might set a precedent for other airlines. If that happens, cancelling cheap tickets would lead to loss of more than half the money. “Last year, the cancellation fee on the domestic sector was hiked from Rs 750 to Rs 1,050. One airline took the step and others followed,” said Rajesh Rateria, managing director of Cirrus Travels. “The same may happen again.” Another agent said the move will affect economy passengers the most and people may stop booking much in advance if charges go high on every airline.
Over the last four months, most airlines have been proffering heavy discounts on airfares. Spice Jet started the trend by announcing a fare of Rs 2,013 across sectors.