NEW DELHI: The consumer affairs department has urged the civil aviation ministry to look into the issue of some airlines charging for every seat at the time of web check-in and also to see that flyers get the exact fare without any hidden cost when they book tickets. Usually, the airlines charge for seats under the “paid” category during web check-in and the flyers end up paying additional charges.
The department also directed the online travel aggregators to clear all dues for tickets that were cancelled during Covid-19 pandemic, by third week of this month or else the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) would initiate legal proceedings before the Supreme Court, including filing of a contempt petition against the defaulting platforms.Around Rs 30-40 crore of refund for consumers is still pending with online travel aggregators and airlines.
Sources said the meeting held with the representatives from online travel aggregators and officials from the civil aviation ministry discussed issues of hidden costs and faster resolution complaints. Union consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh suggested the establishment of an ombudsman for the aviation sector for time-bound resolution of consumer grievances. “The two ministries can jointly work on the modalities involved in establishing it,” said an official.
On the pending cases of refund, the department highlighted that despite clear directions by the Supreme Court in its judgment of October 1, 2020, which mandated immediate full refunds for tickets booked during the lockdown period for travel within that same period, a large number of complaints were registered on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) for non-refund of ticket amounts. The share of such complaints with NCH was over 60%.
Last year the CCPA had taken suo moto cognisance of this issue and had issued notice to six online travel platforms — EaseMyTrip, Yatra, MakeMyTrip, HappyEasyGo, ClearTrip and Ixigo, besides five travel agencies — Thomas Cook, Kesari Tours, Veena World, Neem Holidays and Mango Holidays directing them to immediately pay back the dues to consumers as per the SC order. “With the timely intervention and rigorous efforts of CCPA, two companies — Ixigo and Thomas Cook — have refunded all the amount to the consumers,” an official statement said.
So far around Rs 1,437 crore refund has been paid by the airlines and online travel aggregators.
Kesari Tours, Mango Holidays and Veena World have filed petitions in courts against CCPA orders to pay the refund amount to consumers. The consumer authority is now investigating the matters related to Neem Holidays.
The consumer affairs department said that the representatives deliberated on the integration of NCH with the Air Sewa portal for effective resolution of consumer complaints.

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