MUMBAI: Passengers who have not yet received a refund for domestic flights cancelled last summer during the lockdown should get them next week if the Supreme Court order passed in October last year is honoured by airlines and travel agents.
The matter pertains to flights cancelled from March 25 to May 25, for which airlines had moved the booking amount into credit shells for later use. An SC order stated that Indian carriers in financial distress can hold the refund amount in credit shell till March 31, 2021. If the passenger hasn’t used the credit shell by March end, the airline shall refund the cash. For international bookings, the amount had to be passed on to the passenger within 15 days of the court’s October order, by the airline/travel agent.
Last December, the government said airlines had refunded almost three-fourth of such tickets. But many passengers still have no clarity on the status of their refund even as the date mentioned in the SC order looms close.
Mumbai resident Ashley Lewis is yet to receive a refund for Rs 30,400 he paid to online portal Makemytrip for three Mumbai-Kochi return tickets on Air India for travel in May. Rajshree Anand had paid Rs 15,000 to Yatra.com and booked tickets for May 2020 from Mumbai to Goa on GoAir and return on AI. “We sent a refund request to Yatra several months ago. When I log into their app, it says the request is in process and they are yet to receive it from the airline,” she said. Then, there are those who received the refund, but only after putting up a fight. For over two hours on January 26, Shama (name changed on request) rallied on WhatsApp with a SpiceJet customer care official over refund for Rs 12,600, the amount she had spent in December 2019 to buy three domestic tickets for travel on March 31 last year.
TOI sent a questionnaire to major Indian carriers last week. GoAir, SpiceJet and Vistara all said that they were in compliance with the SC ruling. An AI spokesperson said: “Due to complete stoppage of flights during the lockdown, the revenue stream was severely impacted… The ticket refunds are being processed through AI’s own offices within pre-assigned budgeted amounts.” TOI also sent questionnaires to major online travel agents two weeks ago, but most declined to respond, while others haven’t responded yet.