Source: indiatoday | Image Courtesy: tombihn
Flying will become lighter and a more relieved experience as Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is keen to give the green signal to domestic airlines to introduce lower fares for passengers who travel without check-in baggage, or hand baggage. Albeit, fliers who book tickets under the ‘zero baggage’ category but turn up with check-in baggage will be slapped with a fine.
In accordance with present scenario, private airlines allow a flier to carry up to 15 kgs of check-in baggage free of cost while state-run Air India allows 23 kgs. “Airlines are allowed to offer ‘no check-in baggage/hand baggage only fare scheme’ subject to the condition that the penalty to be imposed on a passenger who avails such schemes but turns up with baggage for check-in at the airline counter cannot exceed the amount of incentive offered compared to the lowest fare,” the aviation regulator has stated in its latest Air Transport Circular for unbundling services. Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) President Sudhakar Reddy told Mail Today, “This is a good move as it would benefit fliers and at the same time reduce fuel burn and pollution.”
Also, Reddy said that low-cost carriers are charging too much for check-in baggage above the 15-kg limit. He revealed the fact that as much as 25 per cent of fliers on domestic flights comprise the Indian Diaspora and non-resident Indians returning home with heavier baggage and belongings who use connecting domestic flights to reach their final destination .”They end up shelling out as much as Rs 7,000 for extra baggage on each ticket at the rate of Rs 250 per kg, which is a huge amount. They are also put to considerable inconvenience as they usually do not carry so much Indian currency,” Reddy stated.
The association would take up this issue also with the DGCA earnestly, he added. Low-cost carrier Spice Jet, which had first rolled out the ‘zero baggage’ scheme in June, said the decision is in concordance with the changing trends in the industry. “We welcome this customer and environment friendly move, which is in line with the changing trends in the industry,” SpiceJet’s Head of Administration and Accountable Manager G.P. Gupta said. Spice Jet moved a step ahead by also rolling out the scheme which offers an additional discount of Rs 200 to every passenger who booked a flight with only one handbag and no check-in baggage. The offer though came with a sting charging with a fee of Rs 500 for up to 10 kg and Rs 750 for up to 15 kg baggage for those who book tickets at discounted fares but later decided to carry check-in baggage with them.
In April, as part of the new policy for unbundling services, the DGCA had allowed airlines to charge customers for various facilities such as preferred seats, check-in baggage charges and use of lounges. In a circular later in July, which has now been superseded by the latest circular, the DGCA had said that check-in baggage charges (above 15 kg of free check-in baggage allowance) can also be charged separately as part of the unbundling of services. Three domestic carriers- IndiGo, SpiceJet and AirAsia India-had earlier approached the officials with the ‘zero bag’ fare offering discount to those who opt for no check-in luggage. The aviation regulator, however, at that time rejected the plea after the Civil Aviation Ministry asked it not to allow such a proposal.
This is a very welcoming move and The Logical Indian Community appreciates this passenger friendly move from people concerned. This will also encourage passengers to highlight only necessary items in their checklist in order to avail this waiver which will make their journey a more pleasing and happier experience.