Travelers in India should gird themselves for higher air fares in the coming months.
India's airlines will soon start unbundling certain services and charge for them separately the way airlines have been doing in the U.S. to the great chagrin of travelers.
Indians in U.S. traveling to the homeland should expect to see higher fees since many of them change flights in Mumbai or Delhi to proceed to their final destination in the hinterlands.
India's Civil Aviation Ministry has given the go-ahead for the unbundling, accepting a recommendation of a committee that "it has become a necessary aspect of exercising more control over operational costs and running a successful airline."
Defending the "unbundling" decision, Indian aviation ministry officials positioned it as a move to let airlines offer low base fare for price sensitive travelers, while offering choice to service seekers at a higher price.
"This will allow the passengers to benefit from lower base fares and to customize the product to better suit their requirements and budget while allowing airlines to develop more sustainable operations in an environment of wafer thin margins," the country's Civil Aviation Ministry said.
List of Unbundled Services
1. Preferential seating
2. Meal/snack/drink charges (except drinking water)
3. Charge for using Airlines’ lounges
4. Check in baggage charges
5. Sports equipment carriage
6. Musical instrument carriage
7. Fee for special declaration of valuable baggage.
India's airlines regulators want the unbundled services to be be distinct with a clear description and provided only on an opt-in basis.
Fees for unbundled services will be of a fixed amount that won't vary with the base fare for a particular flight.
Indian regulators say they will insist on adequate disclosure and transparency on the part of airlines on their web sites, online travel portals and with travel agents.