Makemytrip.com is actively advertising on the Web that it will be able to provide its customers with tatkal tickets at a much ‘faster’ rate than other online travel agents. ”Beat the tatkal queues with the fastest tatkal booking at MakeMyTrip!,” the ad states.
But how can a travel agent proclaim this, when tatkal bookings can happen only two days before the train departs? Second, any customer can go to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) website and book his ticket two days before a train’s departure. Many other travel websites also let you book tatkal tickets in advance (as per the stipulated period). So what’s behind makemytrip.com’s ‘fastest tatkal‘ claim?
According to the current scheme, tatkal booking opens at 8 am two days in advance from the actual date of the journey. For example, if you were to leave for Delhi on the 30th of this month, then you can book your tickets only on the 28th, from 8 am onwards.
The tatkal system accepts both manual bookings and Internet bookings. One would presume that Internet bookings would have more takers; however, according to a railway official and a few travel agents, most tatkal tickets are booked manually at railway counters. Travel agents have their representatives at booking counters queuing up before 8 am to manually purchase tickets.
With regard to makemytrip.com’s claim, SS Gupta, chief public relation officer (Mumbai division), Western Railways, said: “They are putting up false advertisements.”
According to Abhishek Agarwal, makemytrip.com’s deputy manager, the system provided for their customers on the website is more user-friendly and easy to operate, helping consumers to easily get their tickets. “Our website is more easily operational for a traveller to get his ticket much faster, than other websites,” he claimed.
“The idea is to save on time (while booking your tickets); everything is within the purview of the rules and regulations of the Indian Railways,” another employee from makemytrip.com said, preferring anonymity.
“We have done a good job at optimising the code at makemytrip.com’s website and we have written the code such that the dependency on network latency is less. That is why our speed is much faster,” he claimed.
However, this isn’t the case. We checked the IRCTC website, which provides a different system, but is as easily accessible as makemytrip.com. The only disadvantage may be the fact that the consumer may have to know the train number or train name while booking. However, when a traveller is preparing for his journey, he would always have these details.
Regarding the travel portal’s claim at being the ‘fastest’, we have also sent a query to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). However, the entity still has to reply. — Aaron Rodrigues