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90% people want govt to frame travel booking refund policy: survey

As many as 90 per cent of people in a survey carried out to assess issues faced in getting refund for cancelled travel bookings, including of flight tickets, in the wake of COVID-19, want the government to formulate a pandemic-specific cancellation refund policy.

According to the survey by online platform LocalCircles, based over 37,000 responses received from citizens across 359 districts, some travel agents (online and offline), airlines as well as hotels did not initiate any refund with people losing the complete booking amount.

As per the platform, only 12-13 per cent of those who cancelled travel bookings due to the second COVID wave could get timely refunds.

“As many as 95 per cent of citizens believe that the current policies of the airlines, railways or hotels are not in consumer interest and 90 per cent want the government to come up with a travel booking refund policy till the time the COVID pandemic is on,” LocalCircles said.
The same could be brought by the respective ministries like Civil Aviation, Tourism and Railways or by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Disaster Management Act 2005, it said, adding that people have also suggested a 3-option traveller-friendly travel booking cancellation and refund policy.

Based on the survey results, the best-case scenario could be giving people the option of either giving a refund within a week and 20 per cent amount to be deducted as processing charges, or a refund within a month and only 10 per cent amount to be deducted as processing charges or no refund but a voucher for full amount issued which can be used towards future travel within two years, it said.

This way, travellers have the confidence that their losses will be limited in case they were faced with a cancellation situation due to the pandemic, LocalCircles said.

The platform said it will be submitting the findings of this survey with the key stakeholders in the Central Government so the same can be used as an input in decision-making in regard to formulating a uniform policy for travel booking cancellation refunds during the COVID pandemic.

According to the platform, while some were able to retrieve a partial amount, others were asked to rebook the flights and hotel stays for a later date and only 12-13 per cent of those who cancelled travel bookings due to the second Covid wave could get a refund on time.

According to LocalCircles, the second wave of the pandemic forced many citizens and families to cancel their travel plans.

At the time, many citizens reported on LocalCircles about issues they faced when trying to cancel tickets and hotel stays for their booked summer travel, it stated.

Taking cognizance of the issue, LocalCircles said it conducted a survey to gauge the magnitude of the issue that people faced with travel cancellation refunds due to the second wave and also sought citizens’ pulse about the need for the Government to come up with a cancellation policy that applies to airlines, railways, hotels, and others till the time the COVID pandemic continues, it said.

It also sought citizens’ perception on what would constitute a fair and fast refund against cancellation of tickets due to COVID restrictions or risk.

“Ninty per cent of citizens said that the government should come up with a special policy that applies to airlines, railways, hotels, others during the COVID pandemic that enables fair and faster refunds in cases of lockdowns and cancellations, LocalCircles said.

Of the remaining 10 per cent, 7 per cent did not offer any opinion, as per the survey.

According to the platform, “only 12 per cent of citizens of the overall covered in the survey said that travel agent/airline accepted cancellation and refunded full amount when they made the bookings and decided to cancel while a whopping 32 per cent said they did not receive any refund and lost the ticket amount.”

While 12 per cent respondents said travel agent/airline accepted cancellation but refunded partial amount, and 4 per cent said they got only a small amount as refund, There were also 24 per cent of citizens who said travel agent/airline did not refund anything but rebooked the ticket for a later date, LocalCircles said.

“When asked how did the cancellation process work for the hotel stay(s), that were booked for travel during the summer, only 13 per cent said their cancellation request was accepted and they were refunded full amount but 44 per cent said they did not receive any refund and lost the booking amount,” as per the survey.

This question in the survey received 8,594 responses. (Source The BS)


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