Air India Express, the low cost airline brand of Air India, left passengers stranded on Wednesday, when they delayed a flight by 12 hours. The flight IX-266 travelling from Mumbai to Chennai and then to Kuala Lumpur was supposed to leave at 1.00 pm from the Mumbai airport.
A passenger who dna spoke with, received an email at 11.55am this morning that said, "Due to technical problem we regret your flight IX266 BOM/MAA of 13 Aug 2014 is now delayed..." The flight was rescheduled for 1.30 am, which meant the passengers would reach Chennai at 3.30 am the next morning. By the time the email had reached their inbox, passengers were already at the airport since the rule is to report at least an hour before any departure.
Air India Express helpline numbers and the office at the airport had one solution to offer: that they would pay the full refund of the fees (which of course, does not cover the agent fees for those who had booked the tickets from an agent). The mail also said, "As a policy we can give you either Full Refund on cancellation or a Free Date change for a future date of travel within 15 days." dna has a copy of the email.
But passengers complained that Air India was not able to re-book them onto another flight of their own or another airline, and most passengers bought another flight ticket on their own, at much higher prices than they had shelled out for the original ticket.
An Air India spokesperson said that the airline had informed their passengers through their call centre the previous evening, but could not reach out to those who had perhaps bought their tickets through an agent, or did not have the updated phone number. The Air India official also claimed that some passengers had been accommodated on a 5.00 pm flight, though one passenger said that she had got no such offer and had bought a ticket on another airline. When dna got in touch with the airline's call centre, they said that no alternative arrangement had been made for any passenger.
Last month, the DGCA had asked Spicejet to refund full fares for passengers of a Mumbai-Delhi flight, including the money used to buy refreshments, when a flight was stranded for almost 5 hours at the airport before take off.
With inputs from Shahkar Abidi