Beware of discounted air tickets – you may lose your shirt

Traveling abroad and India
Traveling abroad and India

CHICAGO: There is a saying in Gujarati – Lobhiya Hoy Tyan Dhutara Fave – ‘Cheats prosper where Greed abounds’. This happens time and again and more so in the travel area when the unsuspecting but bargain hunting greedy are taken for a ride with a lure of cheap tickets.

It happened in Chicago a few years ago when two travel agencies – one run by a Gujarati and the other by a Pakistani – announced hefty discounts for traveling to India and Pakistan. Low rates induced many to book their tickets with them but found themselves stranded either at the airport in Chicago or on their way back home. They suffered hefty losses in the process.

A travel scam is alleged to have perpetrated by a travel agency in north side of Chicago suburb. The agency is said to be run by a Gujarati, a person of Indian origin who was a recent entry. He succeeded in selling a good number of round trip tickets luring customers with huge discounts.

Some of the passengers who bought the tickets from this agency found to their utter dismay that their tickets were either cancelled or were really not paid for by the agency to the airlines or the wholesalers. Their realization came only when they reached Chicago airport.

Some of the tickets were bought from a wholesale travel firm in Chicago. Inquiries reveal that this travel wholesaler got the tickets cancelled as he was not paid for the tickets sold. Unfortunate victims hailing from middle class found they had lost their hard earned money.

However, yet another unwholesome offshoot of the scam is that the wholesaler who used to sell the ticket to the defunct travel agency is also facing the music. Anonymous emails started getting circulated thru social media, in a subtle pitch that the wholesaler who has been in this business for decades, should find ways to help the hapless victims of the fraud.

The wholesaler in this case, Air Tours, was constrained to inform the traveling public that it has nothing to do with the defunct agency and that it is also a victim of the fraud as it has to get its money for the tickets sold to the agency.

Air Tours had to inform the traveling public that it has no connection – even for the name sake company that sold discounted tickets. It has advised people traveling to India to buy tickets from established and reputed travel agents or firm and not to get swayed by low price offers thru luring advertisements or talks.

EviaTravel, a reputed travel firm in Chicago, has been running a campaign of its own urging the traveling public to rely only on established or accredited travel firms for their travel needs. “Buying from your own travel company not only ensures you confirmed seats and tickets but also immense personalized services when you run into problem. “It helps traveling public choosing the right air line, competitive price and taking care of emergency changes in the travel plan,” said Abdul Sidaki, the CEO of Evia Travel.

After receiving many complaints from our readers, we confirmed that Air tours have been in the travel business for more than 25 years. It is one of the most reputed companies being a consolidator with top airlines like Air India, Qatar, Etihad, Emirate, Jet, Turkish and Sri Lankan Airlines.

“Air tours is an independent company and has never assigned any travel agent to represent it or use its name for business. If somebody has tried to use, misuse or misrepresent its name in anyway, the right course for the intended victim or traveling public would be to report it to the police or concerned authority,” said a spokesman for Air Tours.

India Post News Service