Monday, May 11, 2020

Airlines, OTAs blame each other for botched ticket refund process

Refund requests and customer complaints to airlines and online travel agencies (OTAs) are rising in the ongoing lockdown with both parties blaming each other for the botched refund process that has seen scores of customers getting caught in a limbo.
Travel industry and airline sources familiar with matters said while they were already experiencing cancellations prior to the lockdown, Rs 180 crore worth of additional airline tickets got booked between March 25 and May 3 across all private carriers, with IndigoNSE 3.46 % accounting for a chunk of these bookings estimated at about Rs 90-95 crore.
Private carriers continued booking tickets unlike Air India which was asked to not book by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The government has asked airlines to refund tickets booked only during the lockdown.
Angry customers are blaming both airlines and OTAs for not processing refunds.
Posting details of his Kolkata-Bali trip, Abhishek Gaggar tweeted his refund of Rs 34,370 is due and that he has received no response from MakeMyTrip, while another user Mayank Srivastava asked GoAir for a refund. “Do you have any intention to refund money as it is very evident we are not going to travel too much,” he wrote. Another user Romojit Tongbram wrote he was told by Indigo they had processed the refund from their side but that he had not received the amount from Yatra.
“We are living through unprecedented times where businesses have come to a standstill. We are closely working with airline partners to work out more benign policies for the customers and trying our best to streamline the cancellation and refund process. We are processing refunds as per the policies defined by the airlines,” said Dhruv Shringi, CEO,
A MakeMyTrip spokesperson said the company is seamlessly passing on refunds to its customers as soon as it receives them from the airlines.
"Airlines have created all the confusion,” said Kapil Goswamy, managing director of
“They have been changing their policies and have adopted different modes. Passengers expect OTAs to refund tickets because they booked on their websites. But, if agents have not got the money back from airlines in their wallets how do they refund. The government should have also asked private carriers to not book,” he added.
Nishant Pitti, CEO of EaseMyTrip said more than 90% of airline tickets are sold through travel agents so that entire burden has been passed on to the agents. "But we have also heard some agents are not transferring amounts despite getting them in their wallets," he said.
11/05/20 Anumeha Chaturvedi, Mihir Mishra/Economic Times
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