Why Air India needs a few good men (or women)

Now, all of us know that Air India, being the flag carrier and owned by the government, is run by bureaucrats. So, they have a hit and miss track record with special promotions which are not thought through to the end, and this current one is just one of them I suppose.

In a promotion launched for the international markets, Air India is offering Non-resident Indians and international passport holders the offer to travel in India on AI, with a package of tickets which cost anywhere from US$ 200 + taxes (for 2 segments) to US$1000+ taxes for 9 segments in the economy segment. Taxes per segment are usually in the region of 10$ or less per segment, depending on the Airport Taxes which are unique to each airport. One could contact Air India or their travel agents abroad and buy these travel coupons for travel in India.

If one is travelling to India on AI itself, you get a starting price of $200 + taxes on 2 segments, and add up 90$ per segment. When not travelling on your international segment on AI, you pay $270 + taxes for the first 2 segments, and add about 110$ + taxes per segment more.  The routing rules are very restrictive and that is one of the reason I don’t expect this promo to fly with many. Have a look:

Reservations:When buying Visit Incredible India Pass, the complete itinerary must be finalized and the first sector must be confirmed.

Booking and Up-sell: Booking is allowed in four fare classes (RBD V, Q, K, and H). VIIP Fares are valid for travel in RBD V. If seats are unavailable in RBD V, up-sell is permitted up to RBD H @ USD 25 per RBD per sector.

Travel Destinations within India: Each flight coupon of a Visit Incredible India Pass entitles travel between any city pair on Air India’s domestic network provided it involves no change of aircraft and flight number.

Routing Restrictions: Out of sequence travel is not permitted and same sector can’t be repeated in the itinerary.

Now, give me a break. Air India, you want me to pay up front for travel with you in the back of the plane, and then have my schedule ready 6 months out, and not even have the flexibility to travel to the same place again? So, you mean if I have family and friends in DEL and I choose to live in BLR for my trip, I cannot do DEL-BLR and vice versa all over the 6 months you permit me, your highness the Maharaja?

More reasons for this to be a flop show, if you book in a reasonable time frame, expect to buy a ticket in the range of 90$ to 1110$ for most flight segments in India for coach. For instance, the trunk BOM-DEL and vice versa route sells on most airlines at INR 4500 to INR 6000 ($83 to $111), inclusive of taxes when booked 14 days out. Add the 10% base fare discount they usually build in on AI when you book on their own website. In the case of Air India, lets have a look at the fare for 2 weeks out:

And have a look at the same day and time on Jet Airways for the same routings, which would make a worthy and professional and safer competitor any day!

 

Like you see, the Jet Airways seat is cheaper, for a more premium product and experience, and you could get 10% off on booking via Jet Airways.com. Also, all the websites which specialise in travel ticketing in India will be throwing their own discounts usually (5$ one way).

Now, I wish I could meet the people who designed this promo to rip unsuspecting tourists or business travellers to India, take away their routing freedom and still charge them more money for a ticket they could get 15-20% cheaper on another better airline anyways.

If you are still interested in the name, this one is called Visit Incredible India Pass. I’d create a new section on the AI website called the ‘hall of shame’, since that is where this belongs! But AI insists this is a discount, and put it in the Offline Discounts section.

No wonder AI, you missed your flight to the Star Alliance, while you plotted con jobs like these!

 

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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