GoAir sent out a press release yesterday informing about a new program where the airline will protect a PNR for a year and let the passenger fly, by paying the fare difference.
The airline has been making news for staff cuts / pay cuts amidst the global crisis triggered by spread of COVID-19. GoAir has suspended its international operations and could look at major cuts on domestic flight schedule in days to come.
What happens ?
The airline, like others, has seen a huge spike in calls to its call center to reschedule / cancel bookings or ask queries. In times when the staff is being advised to work from home to follow social distancing and adding additional staff at short notice isn’t feasible, this is a brilliant idea.
The executives would also be busy reaching out to customers who were booked on the airlines international flights which now stand cancelled.
The airline expects the passenger to not turn up for the flight. It is perfectly fine to not tell the airline that you aren’t turning up for the flight.
While in normal cases, the PNR won’t be accessible anymore and the passenger will be termed a NO-SHOW, in this case the airline will protect the PNR for one year from the date of the original flight.
How is it different than what few other LCCs do ?
While quite a few low cost carriers (LCC) have a concept of a shell where the refunded amount resides for a limited period when it lapses, GoAir doesn’t have a shell for the amount.
The airline will associate the amount with the PNR (Passenger Name Record) which the passenger can then access to change the date and/or sector and pay the difference in fare, if any.
Benefits and Challenges
The airline seems to have worked against time with the IT vendors to come up with a solution in its reservation and distribution system. Typically, systems are designed to let the PNR lapse when the flight it is attached to has flown / closed for check-in. The status of the passenger changes from BOOKED to NO-SHOW if the passenger doesnt turn up. The new system means that in current times when Cash is King,
- The airline need not refund the money immediately, maintaining its cash position
- Most of these passengers are assured passengers for future
- Reduced workload for call center
- Encourages passengers to book in current times, generating some revenue
The offer is valid for bookings done between 1st March 2020 to 15th April 2020 and the PNR stands protected until 15th April, next year.
What next ?
The scheme is innovative and if it finds many takers, either GoAir or some other airline could look at such a scheme as ancillary income.