Dubai: India’s low-cost carrier has introduced a new fee for flying unaccompanied minors from Dubai, resulting in an additional burden to Indian parents in the UAE who send their children alone on vacation.
Air India’s budget carrier Air India Express (AIE) will now charge a fee of Dh165 for one way ticket for unaccompanied minors. The fee will be Dh330 if the child is not escorted on return trip as well.
A circular issued to travel agents in this regard, a copy of which is available with Gulf News, sites that the fee has been introduced “consequent to the levy of Unaccompanied Minor (UM) passenger charges by the ground handling agency of Dubai Airport.”
As per the circular dated December 4, unaccompanied minor passengers have to issue their tickets only from the city/airport office of AIE and not through travel agent or Air India Express website.
“If the booking is made through any other channel, then passenger will have to cancel such a booking and rebook at the city/airport office to ensure that the UM charge is collected and documentation executed for the UM at the time of booking,” it added.
The Dh165 fee or equivalent will be added automatically by the system when the booking is done at the city/airport office of AIE.
The charge is refundable when the ticket is cancelled. It will be carried forward during modifications to the ticket.
In a statement to Gulf News, Dnata said:
“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. 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, confirmed to Gulf News that the airline has started collecting the new fee from the passengers. “This is being charged by the ground handling agency in Dubai and we are passing it on to the passengers.”
He said the airline has made it mandatory to book the tickets of unaccompanied children from its offices in order to help validate the documents required for their travel.
“This is a serious responsibility that the airline is taking up. So, we need to make sure that all the documents are in place. An airline official should see the documents for that. That is the reason we cannot allow booking through other channels.”