Passengers who booked the flight now have the option of getting a full refund on cancellation but continuing with the booking would require a reissue of ticket with arrears to the tune of around R39,000–R40,000 to be borne by the passenger.
Passengers from India travel to Iran on religious tourism mainly to the cities of Mashhad and Qom. With Oman Air offering extremely low fares to Tehran from Delhi, a large number of people took the offer and booked tickets around January 26, India’s Republic Day. An Oman Air official at its call centre in India told Muscat Daily that this was because of a technical issue.
“The average ticket is priced over R40,000 but the tickets were offered from R4,000 to R7,000. The fares were not correct. So people have the option of getting a full refund on cancellation or pay the fare difference to take the flight.”
Getting enticed by the purported Republic Day offer, Nasser Hussain from Leh, Ladakh, and his two friends booked the ticket for R6,621 on the eve of January 26 to fly to Tehran on February 7. “We couldn’t believe our luck and checked several air ticket booking portals to be sure. All were offering this unbelievable deal and we gladly booked the tickets as it was an opportunity of a lifetime to visit the holy sites in Mashhad and Qom,” he told Muscat Daily over phone.
Hussain and his friends then booked a Jet Airways flight from Leh to Delhi and also got a hotel booked for two nights. “After we learnt about this fiasco we had no option but to take a full refund from Oman Air. However, our tickets on Jet Airways were non-refundable and we lost R3,900 each as well as R5,500 each for hotel bookings.”
Hussain added that he and his friends come from middle-income backgrounds and don’t have the luxury of spending thousands more on the tickets. Irfan Ali from the state of Gujarat echoed the same sentiments. Ali stated that it is a big loss for middle-class travellers like him.
“To take Oman Air flight, many people had booked their flight on the Ahmedabad-Delhi-Ahmedabad route, which was non-refundable. About 400 people booked from Gujarat state alone,” he said. Mehdi Raza, another passenger, complained that the offer went on for three days. “It was advertised as a Republic Day offer and for three days the authorised officials didn’t come to know...it is unbelievable.”
Oman Air didn’t respond to the Muscat Daily query but Indian media reported the airline as stating, “With reference to the inadvertent error reported over the weekend in bookings on the Delhi-Tehran-Delhi sector, we have taken corrective measures and updated the fares on the website.
“Additionally, we are reaching out to all our guests and agents who availed this fare and apprised them of the error and have offered them a full refund without cancellation fee or pay the difference of fares for the said date and flight. We sincerely regret inconvenience caused to our valued passengers and partners.”