A few weeks back, Air India introduced a new offer under which they offered up to 40% discount if booked four hours before departure. The offer was intended to try to sell last-minute inventory at lower prices so that seats do not go empty. According to the offer,
- Buy seats up to 4 Hours before departure time. (Launched at 3 Hours before departure, changed to 6 Hours prior at the time of publishing this)
- On select domestic sectors every day.
- Baggage Allowance: As per fare rule
- Change & cancellation fees as per fare rule.
- FFP Miles Accrual as per booking class.
The promotion is supposed to work on the Air India app, website and many other portals. The catch is Air India did not mention on which sectors does it provide last minute discount fares and up to what extent. There is no promo code which you can enter. So, it is as vague as it can get, so that, perhaps Air India does not have to offer any accountability with this promotion.
So to check if the offer works, I started looking at flights between Mumbai – Delhi/Bengaluru/Kolkata/Chennai/Hyderabad as well as Delhi -Mumbai/Bengaluru/Kolkata/Chennai/Hyderabad sectors. The selection was made with the thought that these are the sectors where Air India has enough frequencies through the day to be able to lead pricing rather than be guided by other players.
Ajay of course vehemently disliked the scheme, even though his last-minute ticket purchases could benefit from this pricing if it worked.
Dear Air India, your job is to maximise the money you make given you live on dole. Don’t go for these stupid schemes and spoil the market for yourself and other airlines too https://t.co/wLuH5ukiBn
— Ajay Awtaney (@LiveFromALounge) May 10, 2019
It turned out, Air India does offer some last minute discounts but its not always the case. The catch is Air India provides discounts only on a few frequencies and not on all frequencies or routes.
Flights between Mumbai and Delhi
|Mumbai-Delhi||Ticket price at 10:28||Ticket price at 12:07||Ticket price at 13:41||Delhi-Mumbai||Ticket price at 10:35||Ticket price at 11:32||Ticket price at 13:43|
|AI 677 DEP: 15:45||INR 4517||INR 4517||INR 4517||AI 865||INR 5201|
|AI 144 DEP: 17:00||INR 6250||INR 6250||INR 6250||AI 863||INR 9979||INR 8929|
|AI 660 DEP: 18:00||INR 15805||INR 15805||INR 15805||AI 1102 DEP: 17:00||INR 6199||INR 6199||INR 6199|
|AI 888 DEP: 19:00||INR 13180||INR 10030||INR 7930||AI 624 DEP: 19:30||INR 5201||INR 5201||INR 5201|
|AI 314 DEP: 19:45||INR 7930||INR 6250||INR 7090||AI 805 DEP: 20:00||INR 5201||INR 5201||INR 5201|
|AI 101 DEP: 21:00||INR 22000||INR 22000||INR 22000||AI 191 DEP 21:00||INR 5201||INR 5201||INR 5201|
|AI 868 DEP: 22:00||INR 4466||INR 5726||INR 5726|
|AI 317 DEP: 23:00||INR 7091||INR 7091||INR 4466|
As you can see, there is a fare drop on flights AI 888 and AI 314. On AI 888, you can notice a fare drop twice by 24% and 21%. Whereas on AI 314, there is a fare drop by 21%.
As you can see, there is a fare drop on flights AI 863 and AI 317. On AI 863, you can notice a fare drop by 10.5%. Whereas on AI 314, there is a fare drop by 37% that too 9 hours before departure.
Flights between Bengaluru and Mumbai/Delhi
|Bengaluru-Mumbai||Ticket price at 10:36||Ticket price at 12:05||Mumbai-Bengaluru||Ticket price at 10:28||Ticket price at 12:05|
|AI 608 DEP: 17:25||INR 3845||INR 3845||AI 507 DEP: 14:30||INR 3625||INR 3625|
|AI 610 DEP: 19:10||INR 3845||INR 3845||AI 607 DEP: 17:05||INR 3625||INR 3625|
|AI 609 DEP: 20:00||INR 3100||INR 3100|
|Bengaluru-Delhi||Ticket price at 10:38||Ticket price at 11:59||Delhi-Bengaluru||Ticket price at 10:30||Ticket price at 12:05|
|AI 501 DEP: 14:00||INR 13400||AI 502 DEP: 13:30||INR 11554|
|AI 503 DEP 17:00||INR 32457||INR 32457||AI 88 DEP: 17:40||INR 5359||INR 5359|
|AI 173 DEP: 21:05||INR 25947||INR 18125||AI 504 DEP: 20:30||INR 7879||INR 7879|
As you can see, there is a fare drop on flight AI 173 by 30%, 9 hours before departure.
Flights between Kolkata and Mumbai/Delhi
|Kolkata-Mumbai||Ticket price at 10:37||Ticket price at 12:53||Mumbai-Kolkata||Ticket price at 10:29||Ticket price at 12:57||Ticket price at 14:19|
|AI 773 DEP 16:55||INR 29240||INR 29240||AI 774 DEP: 20:30||INR 4990||INR 4990||INR 7090|
|Kolkata-Delhi||Ticket price at 10:37||Ticket price at 12:54||Delhi-Kolkata||Ticket price at 10:30||Ticket price at 12:04||Ticket price at 14:19|
|AI 701 DEP 17:30||INR 13700||INR 9290||AI 20 DEP 14:00||INR 5884|
|AI 23 DEP: 20:30||INR 8240||INR 10550||AI 764 DEP: 16:55||INR 5884||INR 5004||INR 5004|
|AI 22 DEP: 20:15||INR 5004||INR 5004||INR 5004|
As you can see, there is a fare drop on flight AI 764 by 15%, 5 hours before departure.
As you can see, there is a fare drop on flight AI 701 by 32%, 4 1/2 hours before departure.
Flights between Chennai and Mumbai/Delhi
|Chennai-Mumbai||Ticket price at 10:29||Ticket price at 12:26||Ticket price at 14:13||Mumbai-Chennai||Ticket price at 10:29||Ticket price at 14:14|
|AI 672 DEP: 14:55||INR 3565||INR 3565||AI 94 DEP: 18:30||INR 3730||INR 4780|
|AI 93 DEP: 21:35||INR 3565||INR 3565||INR 3565|
|Chennai-Delhi||Ticket price at 10:38||Ticket price at 12:28||Ticket price at 14:13||Delhi-Chennai||Ticket price at 12:29||Ticket price at 14:15|
|AI 539 DEP: 17:00||Sold Out||Sold Out||INR 37270||AI 42 DEP: 17:20||INR 37279||INR 28669|
|AI 43 DEP: 21:05||INR 25667||INR 25667||INR 11545||AI 540 DEP 20:40||INR 7039||INR 7039|
As you can see, there is a fare drop on flight AI 42 by 23%, 3 hours before departure.
As you can see, there is a fare drop on flight AI 43 by 55%, 7 hours before departure.
Flights between Hyderabad and Mumbai/Delhi
|Hyderabad-Mumbai||Ticket price at 10:28||Ticket price at 12:49||Mumbai-Hyderabad||Ticket price at 10:28||Ticket price at 12:49|
|AI 618 DEP: 17:00||INR 3023||INR 5648||AI 617 DEP: 14:00||INR 6565|
|AI 51 22:00||INR 3023||INR 3023||AI 619 DEP: 19:20||INR 2575||INR 2575|
|AI 50 DEP 21:05||INR 2575||INR 2575|
|Hyderabad-Delhi||Ticket price at 10:37||Ticket price at 12:48||Delhi-Hyderabad||Ticket price at 10:35||Ticket price at 12:48|
|AI 541 DEP: 16:15||INR 23498||INR 23498||AI 126 DEP: 17:15||INR 7616||INR 7616|
|AI 1127||INR 7118||INR 7118||AI 839 DEP: 21:10||INR 7616||INR 7616|
There were no fare drops on flights between Hyderabad and Mumbai/Delhi.
Fare classes/brackets are tough to understand. Sometimes tickets are cancelled last minute and thus lower fare brackets may open, or the airline is genuinely providing last minute discounts. There are a couple of instances where there was a fare drop ranging from 10.5% up to 55%.
While I cannot say for sure if all the fare drops are a part of Air India’s offer since they have publicised it as up to 40% and
4 6 hours before departure and from what is noticed it can be even 9 hours before departure and the fare drop can be up to 55% also.