Want that window seat on the flight? IndiGo wants you to pay for it

After facing significant backlash from the public, no-frills airline IndiGo has altered its online check-in policy.

By Elton Gomes

After facing significant backlash from the public, no-frills airline IndiGo has altered its online check-in policy. The airline has now said that “the pricing is only for advance selection of seats” and that “the airline has neither changed its web check-in policy, nor is there any charge for web check-in”.

IndiGo said that check-ins at airports will not be charged, adding “If the passengers have no particular preference for seats and would not like to pay for advance seat selection, they can either reserve any free seats available at the time of web check-in or will, of course, be assigned seats at the time of airport check-in.”

On Sunday, low-cost airlines such as IndiGo and SpiceJet said that they would be charging for online check-in services. As per the announcements, the seats would be assigned as per availability.

“As per our revised policy all seats are chargeable for web check-in. Alternatively, you may check-in at the airport for free. Seats will be assigned as per the availability,” IndiGo said in a series of tweets on Sunday, as per a News18 report.

IndiGo’s lowest seat fee was charged at Rs 100 and SpiceJet’s Rs 99. Passengers earlier paid extra fees only for select seats, such as those along the aisle, window-facing, or with additional legroom, if they checked in online. Mumbai-based carrier Go Air was still offering some seats for free, whereas full service airlines like Jet Airways and Vistara said they don’t charge for seat selection.

IndiGo’s decision to levy additional charges on web check-in did not go down well with flyers, and Twitter was abuzz with several people condemning the decision.

Government reviews decision

The Central government said that it will review IndiGo’s decision to charge more for a web check-in. “We are reviewing these fees to see whether they fall within the unbundled pricing framework,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a tweet.

“We are looking into the issue. We need to see that whether this charge is within the fare unbundling scheme that the aviation rules in the country allow,” aviation secretary R.N. Choubey told the Economic Times.

Are airlines in India facing a problem?

IndiGo and SpiceJet’s decision comes at a time when airlines seem to be struggling with rising costs but are unable to raise ticket fares due to competition. Such charges will help in boosting ancillary revenue of the airlines. Ancillary revenue comprises charges like baggage fees, seat selection fees, cancellation charges.

The move would be profitable for airlines, but flyers would have a tough time, as more people would turn up at airport counters for check-in. This would increase congestion at airports, and would increase the burden on airport staff.

Additionally, rising fuel prices, a weaker rupee, and highly competitive fares have affected almost all airlines in India. IndiGo, Jet Airways, and SpiceJet, which comprise 70 percent of the market, reported a combined net loss of more than Rs 2,600 crore.

Airlines’ earnings per passenger for every kilometer also declined as they continue to expand their fleet. To make up for rising expenses, airlines have previously levied a fuel surcharge and increased fees for overweight baggage.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

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