It was reported recently that Air India has begun charging for choice of seats. Now the airline has also started charging for the middle row seats, despite the fact that the civil aviation ministry wants to limit the number of preferential seats.
Air India’s low cost segment flies an all Boeing 737 fleet and gets 75% of its business in the state of Kerala. The carrier operates 200 weekly flights, the majority of which come from the Gulf region. The airline started charging for seats following the decision to unbundle the services. Travel agents were informed by the airline on May 20, 2013 that it will levy Rs. 100 to Rs. 400 as a preferential seat charge on the domestic flights and Rs. 200 to Rs. 750 on the international flights.
Pre-booking of the middle row seats will cost Rs. 100 and Rs. 200 on the domestic and international flights respectively. A travel consultant said, “Air India Express primarily caters to migrant labour traffic and charging for seats will make air travel expensive”. Earlier in May 2013, the government allowed the companies to charge for seats, meals, check-in baggage and use of lounges. The airlines have reduced the free baggage allowance from 20 kgs to 15 kgs.