NEW DELHI: Air travellers will no longer need to pay extra to check-in at airport counters. Following a spate of complaints, the aviation ministry has asked airlines to immediately stop levying the same. Airlines charge a fee of about Rs 200 per passenger for this service.
However, at a time when record high jet fuel prices and record low rupee-US dollar exchange rate have forced airlines to steeply hike fares, this will mean only a marginal relief to only those domestic passengers who prefer to stand in serpentine airport queues to check-in instead of doing so online.
High jet fuel prices and a falling rupee has affected the recovery in air traffic that was being witnessed post Omicron wave.
“It has come to the notice of the aviation ministry that airlines are charging additional amount for issuing boarding passes from passengers. This aditional amount is not in accordance with (rules). In view of the above, airlines are advised not to charge any additional amount for issuing boarding passes at the airport check-in counters, as the same cannot be considered within the ‘tariff’ as provided under Rule 135 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937,” the aviation ministry tweeted on Thursday.
Mandatory web check-in was one of the key conditions under which regular domestic flights were allowed to resume after a 2-month suspension from May 25, 2020.
The government had then also introduced domestic fare buckets which mandated the minimum and maximum fares airlines could charge for different domestic routes based on distance and flight time.
“It was a commercial decision of airlines to levy a charge on passengers checking in at airports. Now that the ministry is deciding what can or can’t be charged (that was supposed to be a decision for airlines), they must remove domestic airfare bands also. These fare bands (now applicable on a 15-day rolling basis) have not been revised despite the steep hike in jet fuel price and steep depreciation of the rupee,” said airline officials.
Meanwhile, the ministry order titled “no additional charges for issuing boarding passes at airlines counters” issued on Thursday said: “directed to refer to (domestic flight resumption orde of May 2020)… indicating passengers have to ensure that they web check-in and generate boarding pass… airlines (were advised to) to encourage, facilitate and guide air passengers for making timely web check – in and bag tag printing and minimise / avoid penal charge on non – web – check – in traveling passengers.”
It further added that levying a few for check-in at airports is “not in accordance” with those rules.
“In view of the above, airlines are advised not to charge any additional amount for issuing boarding passes at the airport check – in counters , as the same cannot be considered within the ‘ tariff ‘ as provided under (rules),” it said.