With a lot of trips planned this year I am eyeing flights for cutting down on time and reducing the leaves I take. Recent change in pricing of air tickets has left me hoping for better prices. What do you think?

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Most of us dream of business class travel. Even the hardcore budget traveler would never refuse an upgrade. But we can’t afford it and it definitely doesn't make sense for a two hour flight from Delhi to Mumbai.
To capture the domestic market and to bring the prices down the aviation ministry has allowed airlines to charge for some services as additional. Result you now have to pay 200 for pre-booking an aisle or window seat. You can also buy check-in luggage and hope the base prices will go down.

What I pay?
Here’s a look into what all is charged from someone who takes a flight in India. (you can get a detail description here.
  1. Base fare- this is the actual ticket price. It’s usually too low for us to worry about.
  2. Fuel surcharge and taxes- this is for the expensive jet fuel you burn and some taxes.
  3. Development fees- this is levied by government to facilitate airport development.
  4. Service tax- What you pay for availing the service.
  5. User development fees- this is the major player in all the ticket prices that you see. It is basically to ensure better return to the airport operator so that there is no deficit.

Yes we pay once for the airport development and then to keep it running. Most of us don’t get how the authorities decide to charge us so let’s just say we have to. Now that we know what we have to pay let’s look at a booking with Indigo.

An Example...?
This is a booking through Indigo.
Indigo, Flights
Flight Search on Indigo

On the right side of the screen you see 4K and 3K so you are happy before you realize there are additional surcharges and fees which bump up the fare of 4208/- to 7208/- (a jump of 3000/-). The fees and taxes that you pay are another 1167/- one way. So what was previously 4208/- becomes 8375/- almost double. Similar story for the return flight. Do remember this is the round trip reduced fares.

Indigo, Flights
Final Payment page on Indigo

To top it up if you feel like window or aisle seat you pay 200/- over the above fare. A seat in emergency row will set you back by 500/-. Most of us pay that for a night’s accommodation (sometimes with breakfast). To be fair to the airlines most of what they collect as fare goes to some other body, they should be allowed to get a bit of profit too.

What about others?
So this is how the situation stands with most of the major low cost carriers in India (1)
  1. Indigo- charges you for preferential seat booking, food on board and preferential boarding. Also a convenience charge of 100 per passenger is levied when you book from their website.
  2. Spicejet- has come up with MAX where you get priority check-in, seat selection and complimentary meal.
  3. Go Air- The best news is if you do web check-in you can get your seat for free except if you want it in rows 3, 12 or 13. Pre-booking is the same as other carriers.

As far as check-in baggage is concerned air India has reduced the allowance but Go Air and Spicejet have started to pre-book any extra luggage. All this is for domestic flying international flyers can also avail these services at extra cost though higher than the domestic prices.

Most of the domestic flights are barely two hours and if you are not travelling with a child or elderly you might not have to sit next to each other. So usually the seat booking can be exempted unless you have to hold hands. Alternately you can book with go air and try your luck with web check-in but that will not be helpful if you have check-in luggage.
Flight food is usually served at cabin temperature so no matter how nice that pasta sounds it is going to be cold. Grab a snack on your way or if you have to eat just order food on flight most of the time we are done with a drink.
Personally the idea of priority check-in doesn't appeal to me because I hate taking check-in baggage and find web check-in to be a god send.

Most importantly hunt around for a good deal try sites like Skyscanner or Kayak for your flights. Look around for some coupons and you might just save enough for a priority treatment if you want it.
Another one of my favorites is to simply not fly. If time is not a constraint and you can spare a night book a train ticket for yourself like we did while travelling to Chennai. You would be paying 4065/- for a first class ticket in Rajdhani from Delhi to Mumbai.
I feel if prices go lower after unbundling these charges there’s nothing like it for an average traveler.

What is your take on this? Do you like to pre-book your seat or don’t mind being in the middle seat? Most importantly do you think prices will go down?

*All prices you see here are in INR.

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