Passengers who had booked an IndiGo flight from Nagpur to Goa were first issued the wrong ticket, were not informed of the flight being rescheduled and were told that they had missed the flight, despite receiving an SMS from the carrier that was flight was on time on the date of journey.
Given the crippling blow that the COVID pandemic has dealt to aviation, airline companies everywhere appear to be doing everything possible to stay afloat and ride out the current phase of turbulence.
Desperate times seem to call for desperate measures, so it may seem from the experience faced by the writer while booking a direct flight on IndiGo's portal for two passengers from Nagpur to Goa. The flight was scheduled to depart at 4:10 pm and arrive in Goa at 6 pm on July 31. However, after the payment was made, instead of the direct flight, a ticket was issued for an indirect flight commencing at 10:50 am via Mumbai to Goa (for July 31). Yes, you read that right. The carrier issued a wrong ticket.
A screenshot of the wrong ticket issued by IndiGo at the time of booking. (Image: CNBCTV18.com)
The incident occurred on July 28. When the call centre was contacted and informed about the wrong ticket being issued, the executive flatly said that it was an error on the part of the customer and not the airline. However, when the customer claimed that he had a screenshot of the "review booking" option, after a lengthy discussion, tickets were issued for the direct 4 pm flight.
A screenshot of the review booking option, the customer had taken before making the payment for the 4.10 pm direct flight from Nagpur to Goa. (Image: CNBCTV18.com)
The saga did not end there. On the day of travel, the customer was unable to perform the mandatory web check-in. When the call centre was contacted again, to the irony of the passengers, they were informed that the flight was rescheduled to 10.50 am – the indirect flight for which the wrong ticket was initially issued – and that the passengers had missed the flight.
The call centre executive stressed that a new ticket would have to be booked for another flight due to a "no show" of the passengers at the airport. So, ideally the passenger was not informed of the flight being rescheduled and the airline claimed that an email to that effect was sent to the customer.
When the executive was told that a text message of the 4.10 pm flight was received from the airline on July 31, the executive asked for a screenshot of the message and then offered to book a ticket without any cost for August 1 for the 10.50 am indirect flight to Goa. With no option at hand and to ensure that their travel is not further delayed the passengers agreed to take the next day's flight.
An SMS received on July 31 from Indigo at 8.30 am, indicating that the 4 pm flight was on schedule. (Image: CNBCTV18.com)
CNBCTV18.com reached out to the airline for a clarification on the wrong ticket being issued, the cancellation of the flight and the re-scheduling of the ticket without the consent of the passenger. The airline said: "With reference to your email , at the outset we sincerely regret the inconvenience which might have been caused to you. We would like to confirm you that we tried reaching you on the provided contact number (86180XYZYZ), however we were unable to establish any contact with you. Further, with regards to your concern, may we request you to kindly provide us an alternate contact number and a convenient time for us to get in touch with you and assist you as desired. Thank you for choosing IndiGo, and we look forward to serving you again in the near future."
Now here are some questions that remain unanswered by IndiGo:
1. When the ticket was booked for a direct flight, how come a ticket was issued for another connecting flight?
2. Was there even a 16:10 hours flight scheduled by the carrier, or is it a deliberate attempt to get passengers to book a direct flight, then state that the flight has been cancelled and push them to board flights that the carrier is actually operating.? That too, without their consent.
3. What if there were no screenshots taken at the time of booking, the airline could've blamed the passenger for booking the wrong ticket and charged them rescheduling charges.
4. Does the DGCA monitor flight timings mentioned by carriers on their website or is there a lapse here, where airlines can actually book tickets for one flight and issue tickets for another.
The airline in such cases benefits, while passengers are left in a lurch and end up paying money or not receiving any amount as refund for missed flights.