Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Kolkata: Air turbulence over lockdown dates rejig

Kolkata: Travel agents in Kolkata are calling up clients to say they can no longer guarantee travel on any specific date, especially after four lockdown dates in Bengal were changed yet again on Monday, leading to hundreds of cancellations and fresh bookings for the fourth time in a week. On July 28, the government had changed the lockdown dates thrice, leaving fliers, travel agents and airlines exasperated.

“The frequent changing of lockdown dates has led to a situation that is fraught with uncertainty. It appears that no one knows anything for certain. Since we have no control over the situation, we have told clients that we will be unable to suggest travel dates. They have to take a call on whether they want to travel under these circumstances. If they do so, it will be at their own risk,” a leading travel agent told TOI on Tuesday.

Several travel agents claimed they had suffered loss of credibility following Monday’s announcement on fresh lockdown dates as they had assured customers of smooth travel on 24 days in August that were outside the purview of lockdown. But after August 20, 21, 27 and 28 were declared lockdown days on Monday, agents who had booked clients for travel on those four days were now in a soup.

Travel agents said they had also told clients that they would change travel dates without additional cost provided they opted to fly with the same airline on a revised date. Otherwise, customers will have to pay for the new flight as the amount for the cancelled ticket goes into a credit shell that can be utilized only during travel by the same airline.

Airlines officials, too, are in a quandary as all flights have to be cancelled on new lockdown dates and services have to be scheduled on dates that have exited the lockdown calendar.

05/08/20 Subhro Niyogi & Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

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