Online travel agencies caution against booking GoAir flights

A prominent travel booking portal has stopped selling GoAir tickets while another online travel agency (OTA) said they caution passengers on their website against booking flights with the Wadia group owned low-cost carrier. These OTAs have been forced to take the drastic steps after flak from passengers due to sudden flight cancellations, a lack of response from the airline’s customer care and a failure to receive cash refunds on certain tickets despite an order from the government.

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“We decided to stop selling GoAir tickets from Monday because of customer flak due to a high number of cancellations, the airline being slow on refunds and not responding to complaints. One is not receiving the right kind of support that one needs as an OTA to service our customers. We are taking a cautious approach. There have been a very large number of cancellations in the past two to three days,” said a spokesperson of a leading OTA. It didn’t want to be identified because the airline is one of its key clients.

While most airlines automatically issue credit shells to passengers affected due to cancellations, GoAir doesn’t provide it and the OTAs have to approach the airline for each ticket to know about its refund policy, the spokesperson said on why complaints against the airline abound.

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A response from GoAir to specific queries was awaited until the time of going to print.

The founder of another booking portal said, “We haven’t stopped taking bookings for the airline but we try to alter consumer behaviour by re-directing passengers to a page which informs them that the airline has not been issuing refunds for flights cancelled.” He said GoAir has sometimes rescheduled flights to a date two months later without asking passengers for their preferred date. Though the government ordered airlines to give cash refunds instead of credit shells for tickets booked after March 25 for travel up to May 3, GoAir has not done so. The airline owes this portal as much as ₹45-50 crore in refunds.

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GoAir’s Twitter timeline is replete with complaints from passengers and #GoAirScam and #GoAir_NoWhere have been trending on the platform. Several passengers have taken to the micro blogging site to complain about the airline cancelling flights without informing them.

“My flight has been cancelled, which was scheduled on 9th of June but I did not receive any notification or any message from airline. I did not know about the cancellation until I booked a cab and travelled to the airport. Also, customer care service is not available (sic),” wrote one Sangram Das.

“I booked a flight ticket from Ahmedabad to Chennai on 8.06.2020. The flight was cancelled by the airline. Then I rescheduled my journey to 11.06.2020 and again the flight was cancelled. I want my refund,” Mathew Jacob posted on Twitter.

The inability to contact the airline’s customer care is a recurring theme in most complaints.

“Can you please tell me, when will your customer care will pick my call? My flight has now been cancelled twice. Is this responsible behaviour?” wrote another Twitter user Vishal.

A few passengers also flagged how the GoAir website doesn’t allow passengers to cancel or reschedule their booking.

Last year, in the days leading to the complete closure of JetAirways, passengers faced similar problems including last-minute cancellations as the airline couldn’t pay rent for its planes as well as uncertainty on refunds.

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