Air India makes elderly fork out Rs 7,000 extra

Pricing system to blame; offer valid only on emergency basis.

Mumbai: Sameep Garg, while booking an Air India (AI) economy-class flight from Delhi to Chennai for June 28 on Saturday, was asked to pay Rs 4,023. However, on booking a similar ticket for an elderly family member, he learnt that in spite of the 50 per cent discount offered by the national carrier to senior citizens, it was priced at Rs 11,392.

The reason: instead of giving a discount to senior citizens on the ticket’s base price, AI gives a 50 per cent discount on a prescribed rate for senior citizens, which is the fourth highest price at which a ticket can be sold. While Mr Garg took to microblogging site Twitter to express his anguish, AI sources confirmed the development.

According to sources, the chairman and managing director of Air India, Ashwani Lohani, has been informed about the incident and he is looking into the matter. He is expected to make changes in the scheme. Sources said the goof-up came to light when the national carrier lowered the age limit for its travel concession for senior citizens from 63 years to 60. As per the existing scheme, an Indian citizen at the age of 60, on the date of commencement of journey, is entitled to a 50 per cent discount on the basic fare of an economy-class seat for domestic travel. However, if a senior citizen books the ticket on an emergency basis, he/she saves money; but if he/she books his ticket in advance, he ends up paying more than the actual ticket fare.

A top airline official, defending this concept, has claimed, “The scheme is helping senior citizens who want to travel on an emergency basis. If any senior citizen passenger wants to travel the next day from booking the ticket, he will be able to fly at a rate similar to a low-cost carrier’s.”

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Explaining the system, an official explained, “The rates are fixed under the ‘M’ category of the RBD category, which is one of the approximately 26 categories that the airline considers while deciding on rates. According to this, the fourth highest rate is set to be given as a discount for senior citizen passengers.”

This means that if an air ticket between sectors, for example Mumbai-Delhi, has a maximum price of Rs 20,000 and its fourth highest price is, say, Rs 18,000, under this scheme a senior citizen would be paying 50 per cent of Rs 18,000 even while booking well in advance.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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