Airlines told to cap excess baggage charges
New Delhi: Got excess baggage? Your airline will soon be able to charge you no more than Rs.100 per extra kg up to 20kg.
A spokesman for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), who announced the cap on extra baggage charges on Tuesday, said airlines have sought time till 1 July to adjust their computer systems.
Airlines in India typically offer 15kg of free baggage for domestic travel in economy class, and charges for extra baggage are decided by the airlines.
Airlines will be allowed to offer “no check-in baggage/ hand baggage only” fares subject to the condition that the penalty on someone who avails of such schemes but turns up with baggage cannot be more than the amount of incentive offered compared to the lowest fare, the spokesman said.
Data compiled by Yatra.com and Mint research shows airlines in the past five years have increased fares for infants or minors travelling alone, seat cancellation and change of name on tickets, among others. Airlines have also introduced new charges such as convenience fees for online booking.
Many airlines charge Rs.150 for booking with a credit card and Rs.75 for booking with a debit card. Processing charge for refunds is around Rs.200.
On Saturday, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju announced several measures to empower air passengers, which may take effect in a month after consultations with various stakeholders.
The DGCA has already published these measures on its website.
The cancellation fee will never be more than the base fare, the DGCA spokesman said.
If airlines don’t give an alternative flight to a passenger within one hour of cancellation of the original scheduled flight, an amount equal to 200% of the booked one-way base fare, plus fuel surcharge up to a maximum of Rs.10,000 will be payable to the traveller.
Tickets will also have to be refunded within 15 working days in domestic flights and 30 days in case of international travel.
Airlines and airports will also have to improve facilities for people with disabilities and make it easier to book special seats, the spokesman added.
Airlines declined to comment on the subject.
An airline official who declined to be named said airlines will have to devise a strategy so that overall revenue does not get hurt.
“I believe this proposed policy will be strongly, and rightly, attacked by all airlines,” said Steve Forte, the New York-based former chief executive officer of Jet Airways.
Sudhakar Reddy, national president, Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI), said he will be writing to the civil aviation minister to ensure that the cancellation fees are always linked to the duration of the flight.
He said he would also recommend that airlines instal payment machines so that the payment for extra baggage can be made at check-in counters.