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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pilgrims forced to pay Rs 5000 more in Hyderabad

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From: mohammed hussain ali syed <>
Date: Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 8:50 PM
Subject: [Hyderabad-Rocks] Umrah pilgrims forced to pay Rs. 5000 more in Hyderabad

Today News. April 16, 2013

Pilgrims see red at airlines' un'fare' hike

HYDERABAD: Around 400 Umrah pilgrims scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia (SA) by Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA) were left dazed and confused after airlines officials demanded Rs 5,000 extra over and above the airfare, days after issuing tickets to them.

A software glitch reportedly caused an airfare calculation blunder which has left pilgrims furious. Many of them thronged the airline's office and demanded an explanation.

They were told that the airfare was miscalculated due to a technical error and that the actual fare was around Rs 30,000, some passengers said.

According to travel agents and passengers, the SAA on April 8 and 9 had declared Rs 24,700 as the airfare for a return trip to Jeddah, a city which is a 45-minute drive from the pilgrimage site in Mecca.

But after handing over tickets, officials called up passengers and made the unusual demand.

"I booked tickets for myself and my brother on April 9 for the May 1 flight and collected them from the airline office after making the full payment in cash. Officials have been calling me up since morning and have even threatened to cancel my ticket if I failed to pay the extra Rs 5,000," lamented Shaik Abdul Sattar from Dabeerpura. Mazhar Hussain, another passenger, slated to travel via SAA flight number SV 755 too narrated the same story. "Why should we pay Rs 5,000 extra if there was a problem with their system? This is nothing short of harassment," he said.

Further, travel agents on Monday alleged that the SAA would fill their coffers by Rs 20 lakh if passengers gave in to their demands.

They also alleged that the airline had failed to provide them with 'leads'. "Only the passenger can cancel the ticket after it has been issued and not the airline. SAA has not only failed to give us leads but also deprived us of our three percent commission. Only a change in departure date costs 100 Riyals," said an agent requesting anonymity.

Habeeb Quli from Bismillah Travels said that the SAA on Monday was busy tacking the problem. "I have spoken to officials and they have assured that passengers would not be inconvenienced at any point in time due to the technical fault," he said.

When contacted an SAA official said, "The Mumbai office has held a meeting in this regard. I have no further information." Repeated attempts to speak to senior officials failed during the day.

Thanks & Best Regards,
Saudi Arabia