The customer isn't always right: Passengers dragging IndiGo to DGCA over infant ticket are wrong
An IndiGo airline customer, Sanjai Sharma, has complained against the airline to the DGCA, saying that the budget carrier unfairly converted an infant ticket into an adult ticket and charged them Rs 9,000 on a Mumbai-Delhi flight, simply because he wasn't carrying a birth certificate.
In his complaint, Sharma alleged that the airline was trying to find causes and means to harass passengers. IndiGo said a fresh reservation had to be made as the infant's mother wasn't carrying the mandatory certificate.
According to Sharma and his wife Nidhi, IndiGo had initially issued a confirmed ticket for their son, Krishna, on a Mumbai-Delhi flight after charging the standard Rs 1,000 fee for infant passengers, but on the day of the journey, (18 February), the staff asked them to produce the infant's birth certificate to allow him to board the aircraft.
The complaint, sent to DGCA, alleges the airline did not specifically mention the certificate requirement at the time of booking the tickets. The complaint further alleged that IndiGo charged them a full fare of Rs 9115 to 'exploit the situation'.
While infant carrying ticketing policies do vary between airlines, these are some typical rules when dealing with airline tickets for an infants and one of them is that all children over the age of 2 secure full fare and sit in their own seat, while babies under 2 can fly free domestically and at a fraction of the adult fare (usually 10%) provided a valid proof of birth/identity is produced at the time of check-in for age proof.
In this case, the low-cost carrier is not wrong in charging full fare for the infant as it was merely following the rule book by doing so.
Terming this as an arm-twisting tactic or 'exploitation' would just be wrong. Even mailing across a scanned copy of the child’s birth certificate to Indigo would have saved the passenger from paying the full fare.
All airlines— be it Air India or IndiGo— clearly mention their infant policies on their website. IndiGo clearly states that valid birth certificates of Infant(s) need to be produced at the time of check-in for age proof.
And when passengers agree to the terms and conditions while booking a flight, this is one of the terms they are agreeing to. This cannot be termed as misusing the fine print with regard to security procedures as the airline is only following norms which have been laid down by the aviation regulator itself!
Just because Indigo’s catch line “flying on time is wonderful thing” promises to transport a passenger from point A to point B in time, it doesn’t mean it will break the law to do so.
But what IndiGo does lack is in clarity. For instance, the IndiGo website doesn't mention what one has to do if you take a trip and your child turns two before the return journey or on the day of the return. Will you, for instance, have to pay the full fare for the whole trip or just the return?
And this is where Indian airlines should learn from their foreign counterparts.
For instance British Airways will offer a free return for a child turning two, while Delta (along with partners Air France and KLM) requires you to purchase a ticket for the entire trip if your infant will turn two any time before you return.
On certain international routes, discounted children’s fares may be available, if you call reservations for details. In Lufthansa, a child fare (about 75 percent of the adult fare) is applicable for the entire trip. The German airline's website has a lot of information about flying with children, including how to pass time at the airport and ideas for games to play on board, and a special JetFriends kid’s club website for children and teens. Even for Singapore Airlines,if your child turns 2 during the journey, the airline will provide a seat without charge but once they graduate from infant fare, they pay 75% of adult fare.