“Allot window, aisle seats on first-come first-served basis”

MPs in the Rajya Sabha sought a cap on airfares on Wednesday and questioned why airlines were charging more for preferred seats such as window, aisle and front seats.

DMK MP Tiruchi Siva said preferential seats suggested discrimination among passengers. He proposed that window seats and aisle seats be given on a first-come first-served basis.

He alleged that airlines sometimes hiked fares by as much as 400% and people in distress and in need to undertake a journey urgently suffered greatly.

Congress MPs Chhaya Varma said she was once asked by an airlines to pay extra for front row seats, despite her holding a business class ticket.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu termed it a “serious issue” and asked the government to probe if there was any discrimination.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha reiterated the government’s stance that fares as well as ancillary revenue from meal, baggage and comfortable seats were deregulated and were part of a commercial contract between passengers and the airlines.

He said airlines had the freedom to fix their prices, but the government had laid down certain principles to ensure that there was no discrimination.

He said Air India too had started levying higher fares for window and aisle seats. This was a global practice and was necessary to run the national carrier in a commercial manner.

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