The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 26 , 2014
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Low fares hide reality

Partial truth

New Delhi, Feb. 25: The latest cheap fare scheme of airlines hides the fact that the number of discounted tickets are limited.

According to aviation experts, the bucket of seats with discounted price tags in each flight are few. “Airlines usually do not reveal how many seats are offered in each bucket and blame the unavailability of seats at low-price buckets on increased demands. But the fact is that the limited number of cheap tickets are used as advertisements to sell costlier buckets,” former Indian Airlines’ director Robin Pathak said.

A bucket is the number of seats available within a particular price band. Airlines start by selling the lowest-priced tickets and graduate to the costlier bucket once the seats are filled up. Usually a single bucket in a 150-180 seater aircraft does not have more than 20 seats. However, the number can vary, with fewer seats in the cheaper category and more in the costlier one and vice-versa.

Debasish Chatterjee, director of CTI Travels, said, “We were asked by customers to get them the cheap tickets for their travel plans, but what we got were tickets at far higher prices. A Delhi-Pune was selling for Rs 7,000, while Delhi-Goa for Rs 11,000 last night.”

The civil aviation ministry had planned to set up a cell to make public the number of tickets available in a particular bucket.

“If an airline says it is going to sell tickets for Rs 2,000 or Rs 3,000, people should also know many tickets it actually sells for that money,” aviation minister Ajit Singh had said.

However, the plan was put in cold storage following resistance by airlines that claimed it would give strategic advantage to competitors.