More In­dian fliers pay for add-on ser­vices as air­fares dip

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Soub­hik Mi­tra soub­hik.mi­tra@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Many fre­quent fliers were wary of be­ing fleeced, when in 2013, the civil avi­a­tion min­istry al­lowed do­mes­tic air­lines to charge for frills such as pre-booked meals, seats with more leg room, and ex­tra bag­gage.

Three years on, frayed nerves have calmed, and more fliers are will­ing to spend ex­tra for such frills, book­ing pat­terns show.

The travel por­tal Ix­igo said one in four cus­tomers buys frills while book­ing tick­ets. The num­ber of fliers is grow­ing at more than 20%, and so is the sec­tion of fliers who want these frills, said Hi­man­shu Peri­wal, vi­cepres­i­dent, (growth), Ix­igo. “Year-on-year, fliers seek­ing paid frills have in­creased by at least 30%. In­cen­tivis­ing these an­cil­lary prod­ucts has fur­ther fu­elled the de­mand,” added Peri­wal.

For in­stance, AirAsia In­dia an­nounced in April dis­counts up to 20% on pre­booked meals, he added.

What has also made these add-ons pop­u­lar is the over­all drop in av­er­age air­fares. This means sep­a­rately-charged ser­vices are more af­ford­able, travel op­er­a­tors said.

“The num­ber of In­di­ans who want frills has gone up by 15%, as peo­ple look for con­ve­niences such as pre­booked meals and pre-booked ex­tra bag­gage, and both come at rea­son­able costs with air­fares drop­ping,” said John Nair, head of busi­ness travel at Cox and Kings Ltd.

Buy­ing meals with flight tick­ets is the most com­mon frill fliers are adding.

“Trav­ellers usu­ally do not pre-book ex­cess bag­gage, un­less they are very sure they will travel heavy. It’s pop­u­lar with stu­dents, new­ly­weds and work­ing folk shift­ing cities,” said Sharat Dhall, pres­i­dent, travel por­tal Ya­tra.com.

He said meal book­ings are com­mon among cor­po­rate fliers.

“Pri­or­ity check-in is rel­a­tively new and is yet to gain mo­men­tum.”

While seats with more leg room, meals and frag­ile bag­gage were among the first few items to be put on sale, air­lines have now added a new ser­vice.

SIDDHANT JUMDE

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