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Defeating Deceptive Airline Sales Tactics:Ministry's Resolve



  Oct 30, 2023

Understanding Dark Patterns in Airline Sales Tactics



What is a Dark Pattern?

A "Dark Pattern" is a manipulative design strategy used on websites and apps to mislead users into making decisions they did not initially intend.
This tactic can be considered a form of cybercrime or unfair trading practices under specific legal frameworks.

Meeting Agenda on November 9

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will convene a crucial meeting on November 9. The meeting will involve stakeholders like airlines,
online travel agents, and consumer NGOs to discuss complaints. Topics will include unfair charges for seat selection and incidents where passengers are denied boarding despite valid tickets.

Widespread Use of Dark Patterns

A recent investigation by The Hindu highlighted the prevalent use of dark patterns on airline websites and booking platforms.
For example, IndiGo uses a "false urgency" method, pushing users to pay extra for seat selection by creating a false sense of limited availability.

Other Manipulative Techniques

SpiceJet and MakeMyTrip also employ deceptive practices. SpiceJet uses fear-inducing language to promote travel insurance, while MakeMyTrip includes hidden convenience fees, a method known as "basket sneaking.

Regulatory Updates

Draft guidelines from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs have clarified the definitions of such deceptive practices. Additionally,
a 2015 directive from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) mandates airlines to offer unbundled fares in a transparent "opt-in" manner.

Action Taken

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has specifically instructed IndiGo to include a straightforward option for auto-assigned seats to address consumer grievances.


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