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Uproar over move by airlines' to charge for all seats during web check-in

NEW DELHI: The government is examining a move by private airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet to charge for seats booked in advance through the web check-in feature, which has provoked anger among air-travellers.

The Civil Aviation Ministry tweeted it had noted that airlines are now charging for web check-ins for all seats. "We are reviewing these fees to see whether they fall within the unbundled pricing network," said the tweet. Unbundled pricing allows passengers to pay for exactly what they want instead of expensive tickets.

IndiGo, a leading low-cost airline, tweeted on Sunday that "all seats will be chargeable" under its new online check-in policy. However, it later clarified that "the pricing is only for the advance selection of seats" and said, "the airline has neither changed its web check-in policy nor is there any charge for web check-in".

Check-ins at airports will not be charged, the airline said, adding "If the passengers have no particular preference for seats and would not like to pay for advance seat selection, they can either reserve any free seats available at the time of web check-in or will, of course, be assigned seats at the time of airport check-in."

IndiGo said its new policy was in line with what airlines do globally. Also, its officials, it was the Directorate General of Civil Aviation that had allowed the unbundling of services.

The airlines' announcement drew angry reactions on social media.

Grappling with spiralling operational costs, airlines have been looking at ways to increase their revenues from ancillary services. In the latest September quarter, all the three listed carriers -IndiGo, SpiceJet and Jet Airways - were in the red.

IndiGo reported a loss at Rs 651 crore in the three months ended September, mainly impacted by high fuel cost and rupee depreciation.

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