The major shareholders of Indigo Airlines aircraft: AFP
Photo: AFP

After a row between some airlines and passengers over newly introduced charges for online check-ins, the Indian civil-aviation watchdog has decided to look into the validity of the practice.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has said it will examine whether these charges fall within existing rules, The Times of India reports.

Low-cost airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet announced on Sunday that they would now charge fees for their online check-in service, while check-ins at airports will continue to be free.

IndiGo’s lowest seat fee is 100 rupees and SpiceJet’s 99 rupees. Until now, passengers only paid extra for selected seats, such as aisle or window seats or seats with extra legroom, if they checked in online.

Airports in India are already struggling with terminals handling more traffic than their capacity. This latest tactic is expected to discourage passengers from checking in online, leading to increased queues at airport check-in counters.

This comes at a time when airlines in India are struggling with rising costs, but are unable to raise ticket fares because of intense price competition.

Hence they now look to introduce new charges to boost ancillary revenues, such as baggage fees, seat selection fees and cancellation charges. However, Indian flyers are very price-sensitive and such tactics often lead to protests that can backfire against the airlines involved.