I travel Indigo on and off, and my airline-neutral parents don’t mind travelling on them since their choices are dictated by convenience of time and pricing. I must admit we haven’t given much business to Indigo this year. However, checking them in on a flight on Indigo now, I discovered some anomalies with the recently prescribed unbundling norms of the DGCA.
The DGCA has clearly prescribed norms for charging for premium seats which they brought out in 2013. You can look at the PDF here. When they initially notified unbundling, Indigo would ask you for INR 200 for a window/aisle seat, INR 500 for a premium seat (Row 1,2,3, emergency exit), and Rs. 100 for all other seats to be preassigned. They were not taken to kindly by the DGCA, and they rolled back charges for the middle seat.
Now, the DGCA states clearly that you can not offer more than 25% of your flight configuration on sale as chargeable seats for assignment. Section 3.4 of the circular states:
Seat offered on opt-in charge basis shall not exceed 25% of the total seat configuration of the aircraft. Middle seats shall not be offered for preferential seating except for the seats in the first row and the emergency exit row.
I thought I would be not the great English student I thought of myself in high-school. So, I went and checked the dictionary again for the meaning of Offer. And here was Google telling me what does Offer mean?
I think in this context, make available for sale, is the best legal definition to use for offer. However, Indigo is offering, 66% of their plane’s capacity on sale, since they are offering to sell you a seat assignment for any window or aisle seat for Rs. 200. Since Indigo has all planes with a 180 Y configuration, this means that 130 out of the 180 seats are going out on sale:
- 5 rows of premium seats = 30 seats
- 25 rows where Window & Aisle seats are offered (4 seats per row) = 25×4=100 seats
Not just that, Indigo opens check-in 48 hours prior to scheduled time of take off, and they are supposed to offer all seats for free selection at that time. However, a few hours into the check-in slot, I was still being sold these seats for a price. Have a look at the timestamp on the bottom right, because this is 3 hours into the check-in window.
And I thought I was dreaming, but I went to the payment page next…
For me, that is clearly out of line with what the regulator prescribed, and I tweeted Indigo to check their story. They admitted that they were offering more than 25% of the plane seats for sale, however only less than 25% were sold!
Uh oh! Creative interpretations anyone?
Do you think Indigo did the right thing here in the spirit of the regulations? Send me your comments below!
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