You can now cancel Vistara’s Lite Fares

Back in 2018, Vistara, like other airlines, moved to the concept of fare families, where different fares offered by the airline offered different flexibilities to the customers. Vistara decided to take on competition from the no-frill carriers and then Jet Airways by offering a new category of fares called Economy Lite as a part of their fare offerings as well.

The key distinction for Vistara’s Economy Lite fares was that it offered the ability to fly on a full-service airline, albeit at the back of the plane (literally at the back of the economy cabin), and without being served a meal on the plane. Additionally, the airline would honour some elite benefits, such as lounge access on these fares as well. The big catch, however, has been that these fares are not upgradeable, and also not cancellable. I’ve used these fares a few times, either discovering after booking them that they were Lite bookings (via OTAs), or sometimes intentionally when I knew that I was going to fly for sure, and my plans were not going to change last minute.

Come 2020, and obviously, the old rules of revenue management have had to be thrown out of the window across the board at airlines. Airlines have had to make refunds hand over fist last year, and while this was trouble, this should have sparked discussions about how to live with the virus and cash in on the situation rather than being stiff about the rulebook. Many airlines have been offering the ability to cancel and refund due to the virus, no questions asked, but on a limited basis over the past months. However, now, Vistara seems to have rolled out their thinking over the longer term on their approach to the subject, and some new tinkering has been introduced today, July 6, on the airline’s fare families.

Economy Lite Fares now changeable/cancellable

As per Vistara, customers who opt for the ‘Economy Lite’ fares, will now have greater flexibility around changes than before. Earlier on, as you would note above, Vistara only offered you the taxes of the unused ticket when you cancel an Economy Lite fare ticket. However, now you can change as well as cancel tickets booked under Economy Lite. Now, you can change the ticket for INR 3,000 per change (apart from the fare difference), as well as cancel the ticket and pay INR 3,500 towards cancellation. The rest of the T&C remain the same, which means, you still won’t be able to upgrade the ticket and so on. Vistara, however, has added a complimentary meal to these fares where permitted by Government of India rules. 

Vistara’s Flexi Fares now just for an upsell of INR 499

Vistara, in Economy class, used to offer Lite, Standard and Flexi fares. These fares were usually priced differently depending on the number of seats available and also, depending on the conditions attached to them. Earlier on in 2021, I started using the Vistara flexible fares a lot, sometimes for the ability to reschedule at ease (I have Vistara Platinum so I could reschedule for free, but Shipra could not), and sometimes just for the eligible weight on this fare. However, I started to note the philosophy of pricing closer to Standard fares at that time. Now, Vistara has made this official.

Per a Vistara press release,

Recognising travellers’ need for greater flexibility in travel plans during the Covid-19 pandemic, Vistara has restructured its ‘Freedom Fares’ program (effective 6 July 2021), offering ‘Flexi’ fares at an extra fee of INR 499 (per sector) over Standard fares to Economy and Premium Economy customers. This allows customers 5kg additional check-in baggage allowance as well as the flexibility to make unlimited changes to their flight bookings up to 24 hours before departure – a benefit which was hitherto limited to one change up to 72 hours before departure for Economy class, and two changes up to 48 hours for Premium Economy class. Business class customers opting for ‘Flexi’ fares at no extra fee will be able to make unlimited changes to their bookings up to 12 hours before departure.

The presser is pretty self-explanatory, and puts it out that here on, the difference between the Standard and the Flexible fare is just going to be INR 499 more. In exchange, you’d get an additional 5 kgs of check-in baggage allowance, and you would be able to change the ticket unlimited number of times, rather than just once for economy and twice for premium economy class. This is more in line with how IndiGo’s Flexifares have also moved over time, and perhaps may be a direct reaction to this market development.

Bottomline

Vistara’s new fare families offer added flexibility to customers, allowing them to change/cancel Economy Lite tickets and offering an upsell to Flexifares at a small price of INR 499, which would allow you to reschedule your tickets for an unlimited number of times. In the current state of affairs, this is a better outcome than booking cheap fares and not receiving any refund for it in case plans change.

What do you think of the new changes to Vistara’s fare rules?


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Comments

  1. HI Ajay. Thanks for this. Can we upgrade to PE or Business using vouchers on a Eco Lite fare ticket?

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