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Only 12-13 percent of people who canceled travel bookings due to the second Covid-19 wave got timely refunds, a new survey has found. According to the survey by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, 90 percent of the respondents say they want the government to come up with a travel cancellation refund policy for as long as the pandemic continues.
The sudden rise in Covid cases ahead of the second wave, which peaked in April and May this year, forced many to cancel their tickets and hotel stays. While some were able to recover a partial amount, others were asked to rebook flights and hotel stays for a later date as some travel agents (online and offline), airlines, as well as hotels, did not initiate a refund.
This led to the Ministry of Civil Aviation holding meetings in April with representatives of airlines, following which some airlines waived off change fees on domestic flights, while some provided free cancellation and rescheduling of flights.
The survey, published Monday, received over 37,000 responses from people located across 359 districts of India. Of them, 64 percent of respondents were men while 36 percent were women. Around 47 percent of respondents were from tier 1 cities, 30 percent from tier 2, and 23 percent from tier 3 and 4 cities and rural districts.
Only 12% received a full refund from airlines
Of the 8,713 respondents who spoke about the challenges they faced to claim refunds on their summer bookings, only 12 percent said: “travel agent/airline accepted cancellation and refunded full amount”. Another 12 percent said “travel agent/airline accepted cancellation but refunded partial amount”, while 32 percent respondents said, “travel agent/airline did not refund anything, and we lost the ticket amount”.
Four percent said “travel agent/airline accepted cancellation and refunded a small amount”, but 24 percent said, “travel agent/airline did not refund anything but rebooked the ticket for a later date.” Sixteen percent of the respondents did not have an opinion.
The survey noted that while some airlines claimed to have waived change fees on domestic flights, a few said they had provided free cancellation while policies of two of others were unclear to consumers.
Only 13% got a full refund from hotels
On the question of how the cancellation and refund experience for hotel stays had been, only 13 percent of respondents said: “travel agent/hotel accepted cancellation and refunded full amount”.
Forty-four percent said they lost the entire booking amount, 17 percent said they received a partial refund, around 13 percent did not get a refund but rebooked their stay for a later date, while another 13 percent couldn’t say.
This question in the survey received 8,594 responses.