Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has said he will “examine” the issue of some airlines charging a fee for check-in at airports, after a passenger took to social media to raise the issue.
“New rule of SpiceJet. If you wish to get a boarding card at the check-in counter, you need to pay extra. This is like telling a customer in a restaurant that if you want to eat in a plate, you will be charged. Wonder what’s consumer forum doing,” posted one Neeti Shikha on Twitter.
“As per government guidelines issued for COVID-19, it is mandatory to web check-in for your domestic flight. For assistance at check-in or reissuance of boarding pass at the airport, a facilitation fee of ₹200 is charged,” a SpiceJet statement said.
An official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation said the matter is expected to be resolved early next week.
On May 21, 2020, when the government announced resumption of domestic flights after a gap of two months during the first nation-wide lockdown due to COVID-19, the Ministry of Civil Aviation issued detailed guidelines to be followed by passengers, which required them to make a web check-in and obtain an e-boarding pass. The objective was to help maintain social distancing at airports by reducing queues and ensure contactless travel.
Soon after, one by one, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir decided to charge ₹200 for check-in at airports. Vistara and Air India don’t charge any fee for this service. AirAsia India website says the airline “may” charge a fee for this facility. Certain categories of passengers such as senior citizens, unaccompanied minors and those with medical conditions are exempted.
Web check-in is free and available between 48 hours and 60 minutes before departure.
After passengers check in online, they receive a digital boarding pass through e-mail, which can be displayed at airports to get entry as well as during the security check. However, those who haven’t done a web check-in require a printout of their boarding pass, for which airlines charge a fee.