Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Airlines resist baggage push

New Delhi: Domestic airlines have turned down a request from the Union tourism ministry to emulate a decision by the state-owned Air India to raise the free baggage allowance limit for economy seats to 25kg from 15kg.

The ministry, responding to demands from flyers seeking the international standard allowance of 20kg on domestic flights, had called a meeting with domestic airlines, officials said. But the airlines, citing commercial reasons, have rejected the demand.

Most domestic airlines in the country at present allow passengers to check in up to 15kg in economy and 20kg to 25kg in business class. But Air India had last August increased the economy cabin baggage limit to 25kg without extra charge.

Tourism ministry officials say international travellers who change to domestic flights in India are the hardest hit. They are allowed free check-in of 24kg by most international airlines, and have to pay for extra baggage when they shift to all domestic airlines except Air India.

"Many travellers coming from Europe and the US are students and youngsters who do not have big budgets. When they are asked to pay extra for the luggage they are carrying, they complain to tour operators who in turn come to us," said a joint secretary in the ministry.

"We took up the matter with domestic air carriers to try and build a consensus around the issue but they simply rejected our request saying these are commercial decisions," the official added.

Another official in the ministry pointed out that the airlines said that their own internal assessments suggested that 70 to 80 per cent travellers do not carry even the 15kg free check-in luggage.

"Their logic is that they can earn money for carrying extra luggage from only 25 to 30 per cent of flyers and, therefore, they should be allowed to do that," the official said.
17/08/16 Sumi Sukanya Dutta/Telegraph
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