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Old 15th October 2020, 09:01   #1
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Default Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

What could have been an awesome Zanskar travelogue is now a rant on frustrating experience with travel operators.

Rewind to Jan'20 : Started planning my annual vacation+ride ( yeah, that rider bug) to Zanskar Valley via Manali - Shinkula - Padum - Srinagar - Killar and back to Manali.
Dates finalized : August 28th - Sept 13th and was time to book flight tickets from Chennai to Chandigarh. From the available options Air India had the least transit time via New Delhi and incidentally, cheapest fares! Since I had the Makemytrip doubleblack (membership that covers cancellation charges) I had no reason to worry in case the schedule didn't hold true. I made the mistake of booking the Air india flight.

March '20 : Less I mention about the lockdown, the better it is. Makemytrip declared force majeure and claimed immunity. In other words, to hell with your booking under doubleblack coverage, you're on your own!


June '20 : Makemytrip sent a courtesy message informing that Air India would not operating one of the two legs of the journey (Chennai- New Delhi: In operational) and if I need any changes to the booking, I need to figure this on my own with the airline.
I was of course disappointed, tried calling MMT helpline to vent out/ impress upon my doubleblack privilege! I would blame it on my poor navigation skills that I didn't manage to speak with a single human being. Every option I chose on the IVR had a circular reference that sent me back to point of origination.

I decided to work this out with Air India (as if there was an option!). AI website has an option to manage bookings online for cosmetic purposes. It wouldn't fetch my details no matter what search string I used.

Call#1 to AI customer care : 7-8 minutes of wait only to learn that I need to get in touch with MMT for refund/cancellation or go to AIs regional office during the partial lockdown and meet random people to see if they can oblige. Before I could try to reason this out with the rep, I was hung up on!

Call#2 : 10 minutes of wait, 4 minutes to fetch my records followed by a disconnection.

July - August'20 : Saga continues with multiple calls to Air India where either the customer service wouldn't retrieve my records, send me to point of no return or hang up after 4-5 minutes of talk time. Eventually, sometime in August, a rep informed me that cancellation is chargeable (even though AI chose not to operate the flight).

Having mercy on me, the rep offered free rescheduling. I could reschedule for next 1 year from the date of travel by paying the fare difference. Realizing that I would lose all the money, I agreed to pay the fare difference however was faced with a catch, a big one! AI had no flights scheduled between Chennai - Delhi beyond Sep'20. September flights were 2x more expensive with no guarantee that the flights would actually take off, given that the one scheduled for end August didn't.

I was out of options and considered lost money as donation to COVID funds of AI and MMT. It was the evening of 27th August when AI rep calls me to check if I am boarding the New Delhi - Chandigarh flight . So AI had access to my bookings, they knew I couldn't board, they didn't do anything about it except rubbing it in.

I thought Air Sewa grievance was like a Bhramastra where DGCA mediates, enforces customer centric regulations on to the airlines. Today marks the 50th day of my complaint to DGCA on Air Sewa where no action has been taken. Several tweets to Makemytrip, Air India, their CEO, DGCA & Hardeep Puri have gone un-noticed.

I don't know if this experience deserves a thread, I thought the least I could do in lieu of lost money and gained stress is to spread awareness around travel operations in these times. Especially as MMT doubleblack is still an advertised product on MMT while Air India is still accepting bookings.

Please don't hesitate to share similar experiences or guidance on how to steer this matter from here. It's not the lost money but the fact that no one cares if you lose, hurts !

Last edited by Rajiv0909 : 15th October 2020 at 09:02.
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Old 15th October 2020, 09:27   #2
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Default re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

Let me share my experience, albeit quite opposite of what you had to face.

I had booked tickets to Mumbai via MMT and the carrier was Indigo. The lockdown was imposed on 22nd March and my flight was on 22nd April. So, I was informed that my flight has been cancelled and a credit voucher has been issued by the airlines that can be used to book any ticket within the next one year. However, the only catch is that the route as well as the passengers has to the the same.

Luckily for me, I booked the tickets again via MMT and I only had to pay the difference of around Rs. 700. However, I have to agree on the point that the MMT customer care executives could not be reached and I had to figure everything on my own.
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Old 15th October 2020, 09:53   #3
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Default re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

Same boat and cant thank you enough for starting a thread on this.

My Mumbai London tickets (two ways, for two passengers) is stuck between lack of co-ordination between MMT and Lufthansa.

Lufthansa is asking me to check with MMT, MMT app is showing the attached error (has no human interface for interaction, Not your fault). MMT is saying that the flight was not cancelled and hence they wont refund and I should get in touch with Lufthansa. Lufthansa people said that the flight was definitely cancelled (as this was July). Classical circular reference!

If anyone has any way out of this, would appreciate help.
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Old 15th October 2020, 10:11   #4
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Default re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

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Originally Posted by 2000rpm View Post
If anyone has any way out of this, would appreciate help.
I had booked a flights to Germany on Lufthansa (directly on their site) for travel in June. These were multi-city but booked on the same PNR.

After emailing esales.delhi@dlh.de, I was told there was a delay in processing the refunds. I kept sending them mails once a week and earlier this month, my money was refunded.

What helped my case was the fact that the onward flight got cancelled and I had not initiated any cancellation on my end.

Cheers.
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Old 15th October 2020, 10:21   #5
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Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
I had booked a flights to Germany on Lufthansa (directly on their site) for travel in June. These were multi-city but booked on the same PNR.
I havent booked with them directly, unfortunately.

Hence I am being passed like a football between them and MMT.
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Old 15th October 2020, 10:23   #6
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Originally Posted by Akash.D View Post
Let me share my experience, albeit quite opposite of what you had to face.

I had booked tickets to Mumbai via MMT and the carrier was Indigo. The lockdown was imposed on 22nd March and my flight was on 22nd April. So, I was informed that my flight has been cancelled and a credit voucher has been issued by the airlines that can be used to book any ticket within the next one year. However, the only catch is that the route as well as the passengers has to the the same.

Luckily for me, I booked the tickets again via MMT and I only had to pay the difference of around Rs. 700. However, I have to agree on the point that the MMT customer care executives could not be reached and I had to figure everything on my own.
Indeed lucky! Glad you could leverage the credit for a different booking. DGCA has issued guidelines for refunds in case of flight cancellations. My case appears unique where only one leg of the journey was cancelled. Nonetheless if MMT would have honored the paid doubleblack service, cancellation would have been covered.
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Old 15th October 2020, 10:50   #7
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Default re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

Booking via Agent or Travel sites for Airline or Hotels is the last thing I will do. There are so many ifs and buts and if something goes wrong, no one will take a responsibility. I cancelled my KLM flight in March and it took a while but I got the refund. Airline did operated the flight but they had some travel advisory for travel on such dates so I qualified for full refund. I find KLM very fair in this regard.

Recently, I booked via Air Canada direct and I wanted to delay my return, due to present conditions, AC re-booked me without any additional charge. I am sure, agent would have taken a large amount. With most Airlines, it's easy to make online changes, so it's always recommended to go direct.

Same way hotels, recently, I landed at Ahmadabad Hyatt for check in and they could not find my reservation, it was for the same date but next month. They happily changed it to current, not sure if I would have got this done if I had done via MMT or Expedia.

I think, most of these aggregators are going to have tough time in future. They won't have monies to payback in most cases.

One of our senior members has some contacts at MMT, let me draw his attention to this thread and see if he can help you guys.
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Old 15th October 2020, 12:39   #8
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Originally Posted by Turbanator View Post
Booking via Agent or Travel sites for Airline or Hotels is the last thing I will do.

With most Airlines, it's easy to make online changes, so it's always recommended to go direct.

One of our senior members has some contacts at MMT, let me draw his attention to this thread and see if he can help you guys.
Mine seems to be the most lethal Airline/aggregator comb. I paid the aggregator a premium to cover for cancellations and booked an airline that is known to ditch customers to land in this soup
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Old 15th October 2020, 12:44   #9
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Default Re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

I have 26K worth of local Mumbai - Bangalore tickets which are now in some useless "credit shell". Their condition is that all the passengers have to travel in same location. Why not give a voucher of the same amount and I use the way I want for any destination where the airlines flies.
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Old 15th October 2020, 12:54   #10
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Default Re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

I had booked flight to Chandigarh from Pune a week before lockdown's date.

I had to cancel the trip because International travelers were tested positive and some of them came to city through airport giving uncertainty of infections of Airport staff.
My agent was HappyEasyGo.
They promised me Rs. 500/- of refund which is 12% of booking amount.

It's October and I am waiting. In a same way I am waiting for vaccine.
Frankly speaking, vaccine will come before refund.

Last edited by procrastinator : 15th October 2020 at 12:55.
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Old 15th October 2020, 13:52   #11
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My wife had booked tickets for herself and my kids from Bangalore to Bagdogra and back via Make My Trip. The tickets were booked in Feb timeframe and travel was supposed to happen in April. The entire amount (~36K) is in a credit shell. AFAIK there are no restrictions placed on the sector etc. She has to utilize the amount by 31st March (the trip can be for later) and she can even use this amount against hotel reservations as well, and the booking can be made on behalf of others as well.
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Old 15th October 2020, 14:23   #12
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Default Re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

Sorry to hear about this, but did you check if you can in any way qualify under below ruling, I know you did not cancel but agreed to reschedule.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/full...t-said-2303741

My sister had made a booking at a hotel in Darjeeling in the month of May and due to the pandemic when we got confirmed that May would be lockdown, we contacted the hotel and they agreed to refund. However soon after that they went complete mute and stopped returning our calls and messages.

Finally after much searching my sister got the local police station number from a friend and explained to them the problem. Their first ask was if the booking was made through travel websites or directly with the hotel, thankfully it was the later since as per them they has no jurisdiction against the first. In response they requested proof of payment and whatsapp messages and on sharing the same they chased the hotel physically on the very next day and made them refund the whole money within few hours. The entire thing happened over phone and my sister did not have to file any formal complaint. This was an example of exemplary action and service on the part of Darjeeling Police.

On similar lines, due to state lockdown in July, our booking in state tourism run hotel was automatically refunded 100%.

Since then, I try my best to avoid booking via online agents and travel portals, and do dealings with Government Tourist Lodges or with respective hotels directly. Its much simpler to receive and negotiate refunds and presently they are almost matching or even giving better rates than other 3rd parties.
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Old 15th October 2020, 17:02   #13
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Default Re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

I had planned a Bangalore - Greece - Austria Trip - Bangalore trip for April, this is how the bookings have panned out.

1. Bangalore - Athens via Gulf Air.
Status - They refunded the money after deducting some 5K, was booked through goibibo. Goibibo was very helpful as earlier airline has said that they will issue a credit note, but later refunded the money. Goibibo helped all across.

2. Athens - Mykonos - Olympus Air.
Status - They have given a credit note, and can be used by same set of passengers, so can't be even used by my friends in Greece. So this money is gone, this was booked directly with airlines. (approximately 30K)

3. Crete - Vienna - Ryanair.
Status - They initially gave a credit note, but later gave an option to get money back. Entire money was refunded back by them, great work. Booked directly on airline website.

4. Vienna - Bangalore - Air Arabia
Status - They have given me a credit note of 75K, which is valid till Mar 2021. Looking at the current status, doesn't seem a travel is possible by then, will speak to them if they can extend the availability. We might head back to Vienna or Kenya, or might sell it for a discount if any colleague or friend wants it who wants to travel on the route they operate on. Booked again directly on airline website.

Last edited by AtheK : 15th October 2020 at 17:03.
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Old 15th October 2020, 19:38   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haisaikat View Post
Sorry to hear about this, but did you check if you can in any way qualify under below ruling, I know you did not cancel but agreed to reschedule.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/full...t-said-2303741
This applies to tickets with travel dates upto May 24th. After continuous follow ups with MMT, a refund request has been submitted with Air-India on Sept 24th.

But guess what! This tweet just popped up. It canít be a coincidence that it happened in a few hours of starting this thread. Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic-b4e9ff1c53a14a6ebfef2d54588e8fb2.jpeg
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Old 16th October 2020, 10:03   #15
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Default Re: Lost money on air tickets due to the pandemic

I can perfectly empathize with the OP's situation. I myself am holding a useless indigo credit shell with nearly a lakh.
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