Like airlines around the world, Air India is taking measures to increase the flexibility of flights purchased for short-term travel, when there is still likely to be disruption caused by the coronavirus.
Air India extends validity for flight tickets
The first thing to note is that all Air India flight tickets (domestic or international and beginning with the numbers 098) are now considered valid until December 31, 2021 - irrespective of purchase date, or the current validity and ticket type you are holding.
According to Air India, this means the value of your ticket is “fully protected”. Journeys must be booked before December 31, 2021 and travel completed by the same date.
New travel waiver for those affected by covid disruption
There are also measures to help passengers whose flights are cancelled, or aren’t allowed to travel on the flight, owing to changed entry restrictions relating to coronavirus.
Up until July 31, 2020 (international flights) or August 24, 2020 (domestic flights), those passengers will be able to make one free change to their ticket: Date/Flight/Routing/Booking Code.
Air India has confirmed this means you can make multiple changes to your ticket, so long as you do so once and at the same time. For example, you’ll be allowed to change both your travel date and your destination as part of your “one” change.
The only exception is in rare cases when flights in your new itinerary get cancelled. If that happens, you would be allowed to make a second set of changes.
The airline has also confirmed that free rescheduling is only available when flights have been cancelled (due to coronavirus issues or otherwise), or due to a change in visa rules which prevent you from travelling to your destination.
International flights waiver
Under the new waiver, passengers who rebook their international flights will not have to pay a fare difference when they make a change to their journeys, so long as they rebook into the same booking class (example ‘J’ for business class).
A fare difference will be payable, however, if you rebook into a different booking class.
Destination changes will be permitted, with no reissue fees levied. The value of your original ticket can be used towards your new itinerary, though you’ll have to pay any difference in fare. On the other hand, no refunds are given if your new ticket costs less than your original one.
Domestic flights waiver
There are different rules in play for domestic passengers who want to make their one ticket change, and they are different depending on your travel date.
For travel up to August 24, there will no fee for changes to date and flight, irrespective of the new booking class (though you obviously need to remain in the same cabin).
After August 24, you’ll be charged a fare difference if you move to a higher booking class. There are no refunds for moving to a lower fare class. If you can move to the same booking class, but the fare is higher, Air India will waive the charges.
As per the international waiver, domestic destination changes will be permitted, with no reissue fees levied.
Once again, the value of your original ticket can be used towards your new itinerary, though you’ll have to pay any difference in fare. On the other hand, no refunds are given if your new ticket costs less than your original one.
Though the detail is a little complex, it seems Air India is taking steps to help passengers, who understandably demand more flexibility given the disruption caused by coronavirus.
What do you make of Air India’s new waiver policy?