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180,000 yuan for a ticket. Crack down on price-gouging of flight tickets
Published on: 2020-08-31
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flight 01Police in Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have established special teams to investigate and crack down on the price-gouging of flight tickets to China amid the COVID-19 pandemic, vowing to maintain the market's order and protect the interests of passengers, Chinese media reported on Friday.

The public has noticed an increased number of unethical ticket agencies and scalpers since March, when a growing number of overseas Chinese students and employees were eager to fly back to their home country as the pandemic situation outside China gradually turned serious.

A travel agency staffer said that he even heard of an economy-class ticket being sold at 180,000 yuan ($26,172) earlier in the pandemic, several times that of its original price.

One returnee, Primrose (pseudonym), flew back to China from the UK via Sri Lanka in June with a ticket she bought for 49,000 yuan from a ticket agent. Before her flight back, she failed to get a ticket from the airlines' official booking channels despite multiple attempts.

flight 04On social media, scalpers touted their overly expensive international flight tickets to major Chinese cities. A scalper with the Weibo ID "xiaolumga" has regularly been posting ticket information and prices since April, with a ticket for flight MU588 from New York to Shanghai being peddled at an extremely high price of 160,000 yuan.

China's civil aviation authority requires airlines to sell international tickets amid the pandemic directly to passengers with an open and transparent price. In late March, several domestic airlines, including China Eastern and Xiamen Air, announced they would strengthen the supervision of their cooperative ticket agencies.

It is nonetheless difficult for airlines to distinguish agents or scalpers from ordinary passengers among the large number of ticket buyers, said an China Eastern customer service staffer.

For passengers who have already purchased unreasonably-priced tickets from cooperative agencies, China Eastern can assist them by asking for a refund of the difference from the agencies.

A few passengers have received a refund after reporting the issue to airlines or the police. However, as many as 90 percent of ticket buyers are unaware that such methods exist to recover their money, it added.










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