Airlines put fare cards online, but consumers not served

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) move to make airlines display their fares on their websites was intended to help passengers, but going by the tariffs displayed by airlines on their websit, the purpose hardly seems to have been served.

Not only are the base fare cards misleading additional charges, levies etc do not find clear mention. Key information on fixed fuel surcharge is not shown clearly in most cards and they also do not include additional fees that passengers would need to pay like service tax and user development fee.

For instance, according to a low-cost airline's tariff cards, passengers can avail attractive rates like Re1, Rs95, and Rs101, though that alone would not suffice and passengers would need much more additional information for buying a ticket including fuel surcharges, passenger service taxes, and airport user development fee to get a fair idea of exactly how much they would need to shell out for their flight.

A budget airline has offered Re1 as the cheapest fare it charges on the Mumbai- Jaipur route on its December fare chart, but passengers would finally have to pay at least Rs2,282 -  if they book early enough to avail of this fare. Further, though the fare is listed for December, it is not available in the system till early February.

According to Rajesh Rateria, president of the western region Travel Agents Association of India, the fuel surcharge is most crucial when passengers want to cancel their tickets. He added that in such an event airlines tend to refund only the holding back the fuel surcharge, which runs counter to the DGCA norms.

He added that the tax to the government was only Rs225, as with the exception of the airport development tax, everything else goes to the airline as the ticket fare. According to a statement bu The Federation of Airlines Association on Tuesday, airlines had decided to publish fares in a consumer-friendly format and this would include different fare levels on each route.