by Devesh Agarwal
|Photo copyright Devesh Agarwal. All rights reserved.|
A chastened IndiGo airline, hurried modified portions of its much annoying seat pricing policy after facing the irritation of passengers and the rap of the civil aviation ministry.
A late night statement from the airline says
The feedback of our flyers is of utmost importance to us and as a result, with immediate effect, IndiGo will not charge for pre-booking of any of its middle seats (except for rows 1, 12 and 13)
About 11 days ago, the airline had announced a new seat pricing formula called IndiGo Seat Plus, after the aviation ministry had indicated their acceptance of un-bundling of additional services like baggage, food, seat pre-selection, etc, which helps drive ancillary revenue, a major income source for airlines.
Under IndiGo Seat Plus, passengers could pre-block seats for a premium. Rs 500 for sitting in Rows 1, 2, 12 and 13 on domestic flights and Rs 800 for international. For all other window and aisle seats the premium was Rs 200 and Rs. 300 for domestic and international flights respectively. However, what got the goat of almost everyone was IndiGo’s Rs. 100 and Rs. 200 charge for booking of even the most unwanted seat in the aircraft, the middle seat.
Earlier today, reports indicated The Ministry of Civil Aviation has directed domestic airlines to limit the number of seats on their flights for which they charge passengers a fee which is over and above the cost of the ticket. Since IndiGo was the only airline charging for seats, quiet clearly it was in the cross-hairs of the officials.
Indian carriers would be well advised to take heed of the developments in the North American market, where airlines nickel and dime their passengers every step of the way. Last year, US airlines earned in excess of $6 billion (about Rs. 33,000 crores) in change fees alone. Change fees are normally charged for changing ticketed schedules.