Union Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha addresses during an Air India-Boeing programme in Mumbai on June 14, 2018.(Image Source: IANS)

New Delhi, July 18 : Rajya Sabha MPs on Wednesday demanded to know why airlines were charging extra for preferential seats on flights, and sought a ceiling on the steep hikes in fares just before the departure.

Congress MP Chhaya Verma said she had taken an Indigo flight on June 29 from Delhi to Raipur, but despite having a business class ticket, she was not given a front row seat which was vacant, and that the staff demanded an extra Rs 600 for a preferential seat.

Terming it as a "serious issue", Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to look into the matter.

DMK's Tiruchi Siva sought a ceiling on the air fare hikes by airlines just before flight departure.

"At the time of departure, the fares are increased by 400 per cent. You can allow them to increase fares as per the demand, but not abnormally. There should be a ceiling. People who are in a hurry and distress face a lot of problems," Siva said.

He also said that preferential seats gave "a feeling of discrimination" among the passengers. These seats should be on first-come, first-served basis.

Responding to the concerns, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha pointed out that the fares had been deregulated and the government could intervene only if there was a violation of transparency.

"Flight services are provided on the basis of terms of conditions in a commercial contract between a passenger and an airline. The lowest fare is for the middle seat. But if you want a window/aisle seat, or if you want more comfort, you will have to pay extra," Sinha said.

The Minister said air fares in India are among the lowest in the world, if tickets are booked three months in advance.

On another query on national carrier Air India too selling aisle and window seats at higher rates, Sinha said it was a "global commercial practice" and Air India too has to look at its commercial interests.

"This is a commercial practice. It is done across the globe. If we have to run Air India properly, then we have to do this," Sinha said.

 

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