Tickets can be booked only from city or airline offices, not online or through travel agents.
India’s national budget carrier has implemented new rules and additional charges over and above the ticket cost of unaccompanied minors traveling to and from Dubai Airports.
Now, parents sending unaccompanied children on Air India Express have to cough up an additional Dh 165 for a one-way trip for each child, totalling up to Dh 300 for a return trip. The new cost was implemented after Dubai Airport’s ground handling agency dnata’s decided to levy the new charges towards the handling of unaccompanied minors.
The announcement was made on Monday, December 4, and is with immediate effect, according to a circular issued by the Air India Express distributed to travel agents in the UAE.
According to an official statement issued by dnata upon Khaleej Times’ request, the ground handling agency has said that the service to subject to the commercial agreement between the company and the airline company, the individual airline determines how fares are structured and payment is collected from the passengers.
Causing further inconvenience to the parents, Air India Express tickets for unaccompanied minors can be only be booked only from the city/ airport office and not through travel agents or the Air India Express Website. Senior airline officials have said the decision was made with the intention to provide optimum security to the unaccompanied minor and avoid cases of child trafficking, for example.
The spokesperson from dnata added, “dnata provides a full range of quality and reliable ground and passenger handling services, including the handling of unaccompanied minor passengers, to airlines operating from the two Dubai airports.”
It added, “The pricing of dnata’s services is subject to the commercial agreement between the company and the airline customers and fixed in the service contract. The contract terms are confidential between the parties. It is up to the individual airline to determine how fares are structured and payment is collected from the passengers. Passengers should check their airline’s website for further details pertaining to the carriage of unaccompanied minors.”
PG Prageesh, chief of corporate communications of AIE in India said, “The charge has been levied by the ground handling agency and we are just passing on the costs to the passenger. When it comes to handling of unaccompanied minors, there are several resources the ground handling agency needs to put in place to assure the safety of the passenger.”
The airline official also said that the charge will be refundable in nature and there will be no changes in the reservation process for the booking of unaccompanied minors.