Three airlines jettison preferred seat charge

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on July 29, 2011 Published on July 29, 2011

Flying with IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air India Express will become cheaper between Rs 50 and Rs 750 as the low-cost carriers on Friday withdrew preferred seating charges on domestic and international flights.

The airlines would charge Rs 50-150 for any seat while it would be Rs 400-750 for seat with extra legroom of 4 inch.

DGCA move

The airlines were forced to withdraw the charges after the airline watchdog, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), came down heavily on the three carriers and asked them to immediate stop the practice.

“The three airlines have communicated to DGCA about their move,” said a senior DGCA official. Airlines have also been asked to return the charge if it has been paid in advance for flights now onwards.

The Indigo Web site shows that ‘Seat Plus facility' is now not available. Earlier for any domestic flight, the airline charged Rs 400 for seats with extra legroom while for other seat the charge was Rs 50. The airlines fixed Rs 150-Rs 750 for international flights.

For passengers travelling on Spicejet, the charge for preferred seat was Rs 50 on domestic and international flights. Air India Express Web site shows that it charges a nominal fee for seats reserved in advance.

The Argument

On July 15, the DGCA wrote to the CEOs of all the airlines asking them to stop levying such charges. The airlines were also directed to remove any mention about the fee from their Web sites immediately.

However, the low-cost carriers were not ready to implement the move. According to sources, first they argued that this is an international practice. Besides, it was pointed out they were right in charging more for the four-inch extra legroom, adding that if passengers were willing to pay extra the regulator should not have a problem.

The DGCA asked the airlines to add the extra charge in the fare, but the airlines simply refused. In the end the DGCA refused permission to the airlines and they were forced to stop the practice.

> shishir.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 29, 2011
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