Is Indigo offering 72% of their seats on pay for seat selection?

I travel Indigo on and off, and my airline-neutral parents don’t mind travelling on them since their choices are dictated by convenience of time and pricing. I must admit we haven’t given much business to Indigo this year. However, checking them in on a flight on Indigo now, I discovered some anomalies with the recently prescribed unbundling norms of the DGCA.

The DGCA has clearly prescribed norms for charging for premium seats which they brought out in 2013. You can look at the PDF here. When they initially notified unbundling, Indigo would ask you for INR 200 for a window/aisle seat, INR 500 for a premium seat (Row 1,2,3, emergency exit), and Rs. 100 for all other seats to be preassigned. They were not taken to kindly by the DGCA, and they rolled back charges for the middle seat.

Now, the DGCA states clearly that you can not offer more than 25% of your flight configuration on sale as chargeable seats for assignment. Section 3.4 of the circular states:

Seat offered on opt-in charge basis shall not exceed 25% of the total seat configuration of the aircraft. Middle seats shall not be offered for preferential seating except for the seats in the first row and the emergency exit row.

I thought I would be not the great English student I thought of myself in high-school. So, I went and checked the dictionary again for the meaning of Offer. And here was Google telling me what does Offer mean?

make available for sale.

I think in this context, make available for sale, is the best legal definition to use for offer. However, Indigo is offering, 66% of their plane’s capacity on sale, since they are offering to sell you a seat assignment for any window or aisle seat for Rs. 200. Since Indigo has all planes with a 180 Y configuration, this means that 130 out of the 180 seats are going out on sale:

  • 5 rows of premium seats = 30 seats
  • 25 rows where Window & Aisle seats are offered (4 seats per row) = 25×4=100 seats


Not just that, Indigo opens check-in 48 hours prior to scheduled time of take off, and they are supposed to offer all seats for free selection at that time. However, a few hours into the check-in slot, I was still being sold these seats for a price. Have a look at the timestamp on the bottom right, because this is 3 hours into the check-in window.

indigo charges for all seats even during check in











And I thought I was dreaming, but I went to the payment page next…

indigo charges for all seats even during check in 2










For me, that is clearly out of line with what the regulator prescribed, and I tweeted Indigo to check their story. They admitted that they were offering more than 25% of the plane seats for sale, however only less than 25% were sold!













Uh oh! Creative interpretations anyone?

Do you think Indigo did the right thing here in the spirit of the regulations? Send me your comments below!

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. In November 2013 I flew Indigo for more than six DEL-CJB-DEL flights.I would reach the airport about 75 minutes before departure always request for and get aisle seats,even though the flights were nearly full.On two flights I got emergency row seats without any extra payment. I also observed that middle seat on 1st row was also unoccupied on many flights.Seems that Indigo never manages to sell most of its Rs 200/500 seat quota .In fact they should offer free seat choice to passengers with hand baggage only who web check in and come to the airport with their own printed boarding pass.

  2. Enough already. If the flight is only 3-4 hours, take a pillow as ask for a corner of the baggage hold; you won’t notice much difference. If they can meet the emergency evacuation requirements for x-number of seats (not difficult when using professionally trained evacuees) Most airlines will cram in as many seats as physically possible and without regard to seat size or location. That goofball who runs Ryan air and wanted to offer standing room may be on to something after all. Either that or providing three-leg milking stools, at a price of course. Behind comfort on an airline is simply not part of their vocabulary these days and – they Do Not Care.

  3. AJ,

    I think, this is perfectly alright. Instead of Indigo deciding which 25% of seats customers can buy. They offer wide range to choose from and limit the sale to 25% of the seats. As long as they stop offering seats when they reach 25% of the seats, they should be ok.

  4. So are they effectively saying that if I buy 50 seats on a flight (for a large travel group) and then go on to select “premium” seats for all of them, Indigo would not allow me to do that (since that would break the 25% rule)?

  5. Indigo airline flouts more DGCA guidelines and than most other airlines and probably this is what accounts for their alleged profits. Unless the ticket is being provided by work, I would never fly or do business with the airline. That their crew (and I have seen this personally) break varied safety procedures isn’t comforting either. Rather fly 9w or AI!

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