Harried travelers from the U.S. to India have no respite from grief.
First, it was the prolonged Air India strike that inconvenienced thousands.
Now it's the fare hikes in one form or the other.
Jet Ups Fuel Surcharge
Jet Airways has increased the fuel surcharge for both Economy and Premium class passengers.
Effective August 24, 2012, the new round trip fuel surcharge is $510 for Economy Class passengers traveling to Bombay, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The one-way Economy Class fuel surcharge for the above cities has gone up to $255.
For Premium Class passengers, the new round trip fuel surcharge is now $840. The one-way Premium Class fuel surcharge for the above cities has gone up to $420.
The surcharge is applicable to travelers visiting India on both the Atlantic and Pacific routes.
Some airlines like Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air, Lufthansa etc are constantly working on new ways to please travelers and win their continued loyalty through innovative programs and initiatives.
Air India's Torment
But India's notoriously inefficient state-owned airline Air India
often works in the opposite direction, plotting new ways to torment passengers.
Obviously, winning passenger loyalty is a distasteful thing to the bozos running Air India.
As if the recently called-off 58-day pilots strike that wreaked havoc on passengers' travel plans were not bad enough, the troubled airline has now come up with a harebrained scheme to harass its two most valuable constituencies - passengers and travel agents.
The airline has cut the commission it pays to travel agents from 3% to 1%.
Since most travel agents work on wafer-thin margins after paying for their office, staff and advertising expenses, Air India's move to cut the commission will have a severe impact on their finances.
Considering travel agents are the airline's best ally in getting passengers to fly with it despite its overall poor reputation, Air India is foolishly doing its utmost to alienate them.
To make matters worse, Air India is asking the travel agents to charge transaction fee on passengers to make up for the reduction in commissions.
The airline is telling travel agents to impose a fee of Rs 225 and Rs 325 per ticket in the Economy and Business classes respectively on the domestic Indian circuit.
On the international routes, Air India is asking travel agents to impose a fee of Rs 775 to Rs 6,500 on passengers depending on the travel sectors.
If Air India succeeds in in its efforts, passengers will be compelled to pay a higher price for their tickets.
Air India's ill-advised moves has already raised the hackles of the IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) who are taking the airline to court on the issue.
Air India's travel agent partners in the U.S. and other countries are not likely to be pleased either.
Instead of antagonizing both passengers and travel agents, Air India would be better served in seeking to make them their allies as it struggles to come out of the red.