A couple of weeks back, right after Diwali, I found an email my partner forwarded to me which was sort of worrisomely worded. And, it was from Air India, harmlessly subjected about a schedule change. She did not give it much importance at that moment, and did not open the email.
On check-in, we realised her flight was now rescheduled and brought ahead over an hour. In fact, the flight she was booked on was actually cancelled (AI 626 LKO-BOM), and instead they decided to make the BOM-LKO flight a circular flight BOM-LKO-VNS-BOM flight with flight number AI 625. All these details were in the email, except we did not see it in the first time.
Yawn, now on the surface everything was the same because the landing time was the same, the flight number deceptively the same as well (deceptive not meant in a bad way!). During web check-in when this fact came to light, this schedule did not work for us anymore, so we started looking for alternate flights.
We ended up booking another flight with Jet Airways for a 60% premium on the price of this ticket, but that is a different story. When we realised that Air India cancelled our original flight and put us on a different routing, we called to claim a full refund, where Air India’s call centre initially gave us pushback. They claimed any cancellation would be charged INR 1,000 as cancellation fees. Only after 5 calls did someone accept it was their fault as Air India to inconvenience us, and agreed to make a note on the reservation that this was eligible for a full refund.
This reminds me of the good old lesson, always remember to read those airline emails. Air India would have gotten away with the cancellation fee had I not pointed out to them that they really had not changed a schedule but cancelled the flight and put us on a new flight.
When a flight is readjusted for a few moments, such as a 1930 flight moved to 1920 or so on, it is not a big deal. But when there is a big change such as change of timing altogether, rerouting (in this case), then you have a case with the airline to argue for a full refund or to be accommodated on another flight with them which suits your schedule better.
In this case, there was not much leeway in terms of time because there is only one operation on AI between Mumbai and Lucknow, so we decided to book on another carrier instead.
Have you ever faced such issues with Indian carriers?