Fees on Airline Seats Faces Hurdle

Thursday, 13th June 2013 at 10:44am

The Indian aviation regulatory agency has warned airlines about their practice of charging extra fees on seats their passengers prefer in each flight.

Recently, it ordered all airlines to stop charging fees to passengers who want to be seated near the window or aisle, most especially in narrow-body aircraft such as A320 and B737.

Along with this, the ministry will also issue guidelines to all airlines as to the number of seats in each flight they consider premium to which they can charge extra.

In its recent decision, airlines should not have more than 12 premium seats in each flight using a single-aisle aircraft. A senior official said that airlines can't just assign any seat as premium. A premium seat should offer something extra to the passengers such as those seats in the first row and seats near or behind the emergency exits of the airplane. Therefore, in a single-aisle aircraft, there would be a maximum of 12 seats assigned as premium per flight.

The ministry official ruled that airlines should not consider seats located next to the window or aisle as preferential even if passengers are willing to pay extra as they previously did before.

Though the ministry has not yet furnished the airlines official notification as to the new directives, airlines should see to it that they will be able to satisfy the minister's office with an explanation if they want to charge extra for any seats in a flight.

The official further added that the permit it gives to the airlines to separate charges for each in-flight service or product offered is not absolute. In other words, airlines are still under certain restrictions as mandated by the law when it comes to charges they imposed to their passengers.

However, airline operators don't see the government's interference as helpful to the industry; on the contrary, it will be a bane to the commercial airline business in the country.

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