Vietnamese airlines publish seat availability after rip-off complaints

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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 Passengers check in at Vietnam Airlines counters at an airport. Photo: Mai Ha
Have you ever been asked to pay an exorbitant price for a last-minute air ticket? 
That problem is going to end soon in Vietnam as air carriers are now required to publicize their seat availability in a bid to stop rip-offs. 
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam reported that airlines have been "vigorously" working to publish seat information at airports, following recent complaints. 
Vietnam Airlines and Vietnam Air Services Company have already established big screens for displaying the information at their ticket counters at Noi Bai, Da Nang, and Tan Son Nhat airports, the agency, also known as CAAV, said in its report to the Ministry of Transport.
Low-cost carriers Jetstar Pacific and VietJet Air, meanwhile, plan to launch similar screens within this and next month.
As long as there are seats left, passengers can buy tickets through all ticket agents three hours prior to take-off for domestic flights, and four-six hours for international flights, CAAV said.
Ticket sales at airport counters however will stop three hours prior to all flights. 
Unauthorized ticket agents
The carriers also pledged to continue improving their sales system so that passengers can access all necessary information, thus avoiding scams from ticket agents, according to the agency.
CAAV planned to inspect the airlines' sales and booking systems from now to the end of the year.
The airlines' latest move was in compliance with an order of Transport Minister Dinh La Thang, who previously told a meeting last month that many passengers claimed they were scammed when buying tickets for last-minute travel. 
He quoted the complaints as saying that the passengers were initially told that no seats were available on their target flights, but not long before the take-off, they were informed that some seats were released, but at higher prices.
CAAV chief Lai Xuan Thanh said such scams often happened at ticket agents that were not authorized by airlines. 
Currently 51 airlines are operating international routes and four airlines in the domestic markets in Vietnam.

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