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Saturday, 06 September, 2014, 13 : 00 PM [IST]

DGCA mulls offering discount to flyers travelling without check-in luggage

Aviation agencies in India are planning to allow airlines to give a cash discount on ticket prices to domestic flyers who have no check-in baggage, as per a TOI report by Saurabh Sinha. While the rebate will be decided competitively by airlines, it is likely to be in the range of Rs 200 to Rs 300. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) thought of this win-win for airlines and passengers, weeks after it firmly told air carriers to continue allowing people check-in baggage up to a certain weight without any extra charge.

This issue had come up this June when AirAsia India at launch time decided not to allow any free check-in baggage. The joint venture of Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia and Tata Sons had proposed that pre-booking baggage charges will start at Rs 199 for up to 15 kg. This charge would have kept getting heftier as the bags get heavier. And flyers checking-in at airport counters were to pay Rs 300 for up to 15 kg and then Rs 250 per kg for ever kilo beyond that.

This led to an uproar as all Indian carriers currently allow check-in baggage up to 15 kg free of cost for domestic flyers. (Till a few months back, they all allowed up to 20 kg free of cost.) AirAsia globally does not allow any free check-in baggage and wanted the same practice for India. But, the DGCA had then directed AirAsia India to continue with this practice and the LCC fell in line just before beginning to fly here.

However, this debate with AirAsia led to serious thinking within the regulator as many airlines in the west, including full-service ones allow check-in baggage only for a fee. “Airlines will not be allowed to charge extra for check-in baggage of up to certain weight limit that will be decided by the carriers. But if someone is not carrying any check-in baggage, then such a person should get a discount at the time of booking itself. We are examining this model,” said a senior official.

Airline officials say nothing is free and passengers pay for their allowed check-in bags in the ticket itself. "So people are paying for check-in baggage without being aware they are doing so. Our plan is to use the same logic to get a discount of baggage charge for those who are not carrying any baggage," said the official.

”A substantial amount of pre-booking happens on all flights. Airlines will be able to know how many people are going without check-in bag; judge the weight of the aircraft and take the required fuel. Carrying more fuel also means burning more to carry this extra weight," an official said.
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