Air India launches new 'upgrade' scheme to boost revenue

National carrier Air India, exploring every avenue to cut down its losses, has launched a new scheme aimed at filling up vacant business class seats.

Under the scheme, domestic economy passengers can upgrade their tickets to executive class by paying Rs5,000-7,000 over the original ticket price.

The upgrade scheme, open to domestic passengers holding tickets in economy class including the cheap advance purchase fares, would be available only at the airport before check-in, subject to executive class seat availability, on first-come, first-served basis.

The scheme, called 'Get Up Front', which is valid till 31 October, would be available for travel to 43 cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, an Air India spokesperson said.

While a passenger travelling a distance of up to 750 km would have to pay Rs5,000 for the upgrade, those flying over 750 km, the fixed charge would be Rs7,000.

If a passenger books an economy Delhi-Mumbai ticket well in advance paying about Rs5,000, he or she can upgrade to executive class by paying another Rs7,000, taking the total fare to Rs12,000, which turns out to be much cheaper than an original executive class ticket worth over Rs25,000.

Airlines, as is widely known, make their profits from upper class travellers rather than economy seats, which barely pay for themselves.

A similar upgrade scheme is already available on Air India's international sectors till 31 June, the rates for which depend on the sector and the distance of travel. In some domestic sectors where the airline operates a full-economy aircraft, Air India would reserve the first three rows and offer premium service to the upgraded passengers.

The national carrier also offers an advance purchase fare scheme in various slabs on the 237 holiday packages to 125 domestic tourist and religious destinations to attract leisure and holiday travellers.