IATA, Don't Dump Airline Travelers

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On 18 Apr 2019, the Jet Airways stopped all operations and with that all air-tickets for future flights were cancelled. And ten of thousands of passengers like me and my wife who were booked to fly with Jet Airways were in for a harrowing experience. It was a dark miserable scary night as the agent refused to refund our ticket money. We had so much at stake so we scampered to get funds from our reserves to book our tickets in another airline as the airfares were rocketing sky high.

The Agent, Kaleidoscope Travel Consultants, Pune with IATA number 14352450 just refused to refund our money stating that refunds were not received from Jet Airways. Then I wrote to the Jet Airways for refund but the Airline would not entertain refunds of agent issued tickets. Jet Airways categorically stated that they will refund first those who bought from their website or ticket counters, then from partner websites like MakeMyTrip etc. Those who have purchased their tickets from IATA Agents need to contact the agent and not the Airline. Thus I contacted the Agent again but did not get any positive reply. I was going around in circles from Agent to Airline but no one to resolve my problem and same fate awaits the other who booked through IATA Travel Agents.

I even wrote to the Ministry of Aviation through the online portal AirSewa for refund, but they would just forward my request to Jet Airways, and after about a fortnight the complaint would be closed with a perfunctory reply from Jet Airways that refund would be done in due course. 

In the end I contacted the IATA who so very glibly talks about passenger rights on its website. I asked the IATA to provide me some information about the refund of my cancelled Jet Airways tickets which were issued through an IATA agent as neither the Airline nor the Agent is answering my queries. I attached both the tickets of me and my wife with the email. But despite numerous requests, IATA would not divulge any information regarding the refund status. Though in each of the email they would very glibly end with the sentence and I quote, "Do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information."

The IATA's declaration on their website that they support passenger rights looks like an eyewash whereas in reality, IATA looks after the interest of Airlines and its Agents and the main customer driving this industry, the passenger is left to fend for himself. 

It may further be noted that IATA is not answerable to any Indian Courts as it is a foreign entity. So if an Airline or IATA agent or both refuse to respond to your queries, you do not have any means to know about the refund as IATA will not divulge any information.

With this petition to IATA, I would want them to change their policies of passenger rights especially in exceptional circumstances wherein an Airline goes bust or due to some reasons cancels all its operations. I would further request them to entertain request for refund in such exceptional circumstances, indeed with due diligence and proper verification.