Flight Plan

When changing or cancelling a ticket pinches your pocket

Anand Kalyanaraman | Updated on January 20, 2018

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Some airlines let you pay extra for the flexibility to alter plans

Not sure about your travel plan? Don’t rush to book your air ticket, or you could end up losing heavily if you have to redraw your schedule. Air fares may be lower than before, but ticket cancellation and rescheduling charges have been zooming. From a few hundred bucks some years back, these charges now often exceed Rs ₹2,000 per passenger per sector.

Big hit

The latest instalment of bad news comes courtesy IndiGo Airlines, the country’s largest carrier. From April 1, it increased cancellation and rescheduling charges on domestic routes to a flat ₹2,250 per ticket.

Earlier, the charges were lower if the change or cancellation was done at least a month prior to the flight’s departure.

IndiGo is not alone. SpiceJet, Jet Airways and even government-controlled Air India too have sharply increased their cancellation and rebooking charges over the years.

Ergo, no matter which airline, you will take a big hit (at least ₹1,500). These charges could be higher than the fares on short-haul routes. If the ticket costs lower than the cancellation or change charges, you forfeit the entire fare, except taxes. And one stands to lose even more if you have booked the ticket through a travel portal, which will take a cut.

Like before, most airlines allow change or cancellation only up to two hours before flight departure on domestic routes. Thus, a last-minute alteration in plan will mean a no-show charge by the airline. That is, you get almost nothing back, just the taxes.

Also, if a flier bought the ticket ‘on offer’ or ‘on sale’, she is likely to have a non-refundable paper. Besides, whenever you reschedule any ticket, be ready to pay up the difference if the new fare is higher.

The rules are tighter and the charges steeper on international routes - IndiGo, for instance, allows change or cancellation only up to four hours before the departure, and charges ₹2,500, or its equivalent in local currency, per passenger per segment.

IndiGo, and also some of its peers, also charge a couple of hundreds extra as refund processing fee.

This applies if you want the residual amount on change or cancellation to be paid back to your card or bank account, rather than being retained as credit with the airline for future use within a specified period, generally a year.

Cheaper carrots

Fortunately, there is some relief for passengers with tentative travel plans.

For an extra non-refundable payment of ₹949 at the time of booking, SpiceJet lets you cancel or change your ticket, just once, on domestic flights.For its international flights, you will have to shell out ₹1,149. That is less than the regular change or cancellation fees charged by the airline - ₹1,899 on domestic and ₹2,349 on international flights.

IndiGo, though at a higher price, lets domestic fliers cancel or change bookings any number of times. They can also select a seat, and get a meal for ₹1,500.

Published on April 05, 2016

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