Home >News >India >Complaints from fliers awaiting refunds touch 100 per day

Divya Khera describes her past week as “the most stressful ever". She has been chasing down airlines for refunds after three home-bound flights she had booked tickets for were cancelled.

Many passengers who had booked tickets after domestic flight operations resumed have not got their refunds yet. “With no clear communication and passengers being informed about flight cancellations at the last minute, airlines are exploiting the situation and making money out of passengers," says Sudhakar Reddy, president, Air Passengers Association of India. Since 25 May, the association has received over 100 complaints every day, he adds.

A screenwriter from Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh, Khera, 34, often travels to Mumbai for work and has been stuck in the city since 25 March, when the lockdown kicked in. She hasn’t seen her three children, all aged under 10, for two months. When airline services resumed on 25 May, she booked a flight for 1 June to Chandigarh, the closest airport to her hometown. It was cancelled, rescheduled, then cancelled twice again. Airline officials told her to either to wait or take a refund. She decided to buy another ticket on another airline. She’s still waiting for a refund of 7,000 from the first airline as only has verbal confirmation for refund.

“It’s just been a nightmare," she says. “I have wasted so much time because they would not tell me clearly that they were not flying to Chandigarh."

The airlines did not respond to requests for a comment.

Neelkamal Kashyap, too, is waiting to get a refund of 7,500 he spent for a Mumbai-Guwahati flight on 25 May. “When the rescheduled flight for the next day was also cancelled, my family and I panicked," says Kashyap, a Mumbai University student. He booked a ticket on another airline for 28 May and got home. “It was like gambling. You booked a flight and didn’t know if it would take off. We are still following up on the refund. It’s hard to get a straight or quick answer out of the airlines."

Others, like Shreeya Nangia, 25, and her friend, who had booked tickets for a Mumbai-Delhi flight on 25 May, received flight vouchers when it was cancelled. They made fresh bookings with another airline. The fare for the cancelled flight of 14,772 (excluding convenience fees charged by the online travel platform) was converted to credits. “I’m glad I got the credits at least. I wasn’t expecting anything," says Nangia, who works with an investment bank.

The terms and conditions for using the credits, however, are unfair, she says. It says that the redemption can be made if both Nangia and her friend travel together again. “That’s impractical," she says. “The process of raising a refund request was complicated. Airlines aren’t thinking about their passengers at a time like this."

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