NEW DELHI Hundreds of Air India passengers were left stranded at several airports across the world as its check-in software stopped functioning for around six hours, the airline said Saturday.
According to airline sources, the software, which is of Atlanta-based SITA company, was not functioning approximately from 3 am to 9 am Saturday.
Consequently, boarding passes could not be issued at major airports across the world and various flights were delayed.
“The system has been restored. It has begun functioning. We regret the inconvenience that passengers had to face,” said the national carrier’s chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani.
“We are trying to regularise all the flights for the day. But there would be some delay of flights today. I am expecting a delay of around two hours. Because in the morning, the whole system got disturbed,” he added.
Lohani said that Air India uses a passenger services system, which looks after check-in, baggage and reservation, of the SITA company and “it was taken for maintenance today morning” by them.
“After that, there were some technical glitches, because of which, the system was not functional. There were some major problems at big airports such as Delhi,” he added.
SITA regretted the inconvenience caused said it had experienced a complex system issue during server maintenance early morning which resulted in operational disruption to flights.
“We have now fully restored services at all airports where Air India were affected. Our priority remains, as always, to ensure a stable system where customers can conduct business efficiently and effectively, and we are undertaking a full investigation to understand the root cause and prevent a recurrence,” it said in a statement to PTI.
Many passengers vented their ire on social media as the airline could not issue them the boarding passes on Saturday morning.
A Dr Sonal Saxena tweeted at 7.20 am, “Utter chaos. Air India systems not working at Delhi since 3 am. All flights grounded and delayed. No check-ins and boarding.”
The airline’s spokesperson had said at around 8 am, “SITA server is down. Due to which flight operation is affected. Our technical teams are on work and soon system may be recovered.”
A similar incident took place on June 23 last year when a technical glitch in the airline’s check-in software delayed 25 of its flights across India.
The airline had tweeted on June 23, “Due to unexpexted network connectivity issues at SITA #Atlanta #Datacenter , which had a #worldwide impact, 25 flights were delayed from 1210 hrs to 1510 hrs on #Airindia network.
Air India to not charge fees for ticket cancellation done on booking day
Air India has decided that from May 1, if a customer wants to cancel his air ticket or make changes in it within 24 hours of booking, he will not be charged any fee, according to an airline document. However, this facility will be available only if the flight is scheduled at least seven days after the booking date.
Indian aviation regulator DGCA had issued a “passenger charter” on February 27, which specified the rights of air travellers. One of the provisions in the passenger charter has been implemented by the national carrier through the aforementioned decision that will come into effect from May 1.
A circular issued by Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) on April 24 said, “It has been decided that for sale and travel, effective May 1, 2019, all domestic tickets will have the free look-in option for change and cancellation as prescribed by the DGCA.”
“The passenger has an option of cancelling or amending the ticket without any additional charges, that is cancellation or change fee is not applicable, when the same is done within 24 hours of ticketing,” it added.
However, according to the circular, the normal prevailing fare and the related fare conditions on a particular flight — for which the ticket is being sought — will be applicable. Moreover, the circular stated that the facility “shall not be available for a flight whose departure is scheduled less than seven days from the booking date”.
“Beyond 24 hours of initial booking time, this option is not available and the passenger has to pay the relevant cancellation/change fees for amendment,” it added.
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