SpiceJet & Go First cooperate on clubbing flights as loads remain low

The next time you are booked on a SpiceJet flight, you might just be flying Go First, or vice versa. There is an arrangement that both the airlines have been operating under for the past few weeks that might have you in a gotcha moment when arriving for your flight at the airport

Evidently, SpiceJet and Go First (erstwhile GoAir) have decided that the airlines are going to club flights on the other’s network where their networks overlap. There is no formal agreement, apparently, but an understanding has been achieved. The deal entails the airlines proactively cancelling flights with low loads and accommodate their passengers onto the other’s alternate flights.

My first reaction to this news was circling back to when Kingfisher and Jet Airways discussed some cooperation back in 2008, which was announced but never saw the light of day.

How does this work in practice? Both the airlines confer with each other daily, and wherever there are low loads on a flight, they seek out seats on the closest available flight on the other airlines’ network and rebook them there. In this case, the airline which cancels their flight pays the current government-mandated price to the other airline to buy the seats. The other airline, accommodating the passengers, reduces the number of seats from its inventory on sale.

As per The Hindu Businessline, which first carried this story, the airlines have cooperated on this and placed at least 20,000 passengers on the other one’s network so far. The paper also reports that this has helped the airlines cut down their daily cash spends by INR 20 Lakhs (USD 27,000) per day.

The airlines are quoted as using the IROPS agreement to model this arrangement. IROPS (Interline Considerations on Irregular Operations) agreements are made between airlines where they can rebook their passengers on another airline if there is a cancellation due to issues such as weather-related delays or aircraft gone tech. But these arrangements happen closer to the time of departure and not a day in advance, like when IndiGo offered me to fly SpiceJet when their flight between Delhi – Mumbai was running massively delayed.

GoAir

GoAir

Does everything work smoothly? Maybe not. In one case, an LFAL reader reported that his friend was informed at the time of check-in with Go First that they have been accommodated on the SpiceJet flight.

In another case, someone paid for a specific seat (1A) and could not fly on the front row.

And here is more trouble, in which case excess baggage fees were paid.

In a third case, the payment for excess baggage was not passed through to the other airline.

Bottomline

If you are booked on SpiceJet or Go First, you might see yourself in a situation being shifted to the other airline’s flight. While the shift will be proactively informed, you may be in a situation where the ancillary assignment money will be lost, or you may have a case where you will need to pay again and get a refund later.

What do you think of this unlikely alliance between the two financially weak airlines? Have you been at the receiving end of this move? Do share your experience.


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Comments

  1. It’s time people realise which airlines are seriously interested in transporting passengers and cargo and others which are doing timepass. Indigo, vistara are serious and professional players. Better to pay a bit higher and opt for them instead of the others who perenially disappoint.

  2. Not sure how this could be legal tbh. Now I’ll make clear I’m in the UK so will happily admit that I’m not exactly an expert on Indian law governing such things but it would certainly break a few laws and/ or international treaties regarding aviation carriage.

    Firstly while they’re using the IROPS system it’s clearly well outside of how that is designed to work. That is, obstensibly, for when a flight goes tech last minute and the original carrier doesn’t have fleet capacity to replace the assigned aircraft in a timely fashion or they cancel a route and have to use an alternative carrier to honour their contractual agreement to the pax to get them there and back. This ‘looks’ to be a kind of enhanced hybrid codeshare / alliance agreement that’s been formed whilst somehow managing to circumvent all the, many many, laws governing such things.

    Under IROPS I can’t be forced to take the carrier/routing/timing if I can submit a reasonable alternative – something I’ve done with BA on a few occasions. They may not like it or want to do it but the rules on it are pretty clear that them not liking it is irrelevant as it’s the carrier that’s in breach of contract not the passenger.

    Also the original carrier is obligated to provide and pay like-for-like provision governing class of travel* , baggage allowance and anything else the pax held in the original booking
    *Where there isn’t a matching class then compensation needs to be agreed between carrier and pax.

    This is shady as hell to the point I almost respect them for getting away with it.

    • @Myself, a couple of things working in their favour right now. First, last-minute fares are no different than far-booked fares, given that travel is abysmally low. Second, the fares are being regulated for now. Also, both of these are low-cost carriers. The only difference is one is an Airbus operator and one is a Boeing operator. There is also no paper produced on this seemingly, just a verbal contract. Unless someone drags them to a court (Competition Commission of India), this looks like it will fly for the time being.

  3. Anyhow gofirst is not reliable. I booked my flight in February and departure was on 06 April 2021. First they cancelled the flight in March and second time they cancelled the flight on 04 April 2021. Because of them like me many passengers had to book alternate flight and suffered losses. I will never book my flight via go first. Indigo is best.

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