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Saturday, December 10, 2022

On UAE-India routes, airlines get less generous on baggage allowances as fuel costs soar

Those flying between UAE and India may no longer have to follow strict COVID-19 rules – but they definitely will have some trouble packing their suitcases.

In response to the recent rise in fuel prices, airlines are either tightening their baggage policy, or getting stricter with the implementation of existing rules. Some are charging extra for allowing passengers to carry more than one piece of check-in baggage. Carriers, which used to permit two pieces of hand luggage such as a laptop bag and backpack, are now allowing just one.

As the airline industry deals with record-high jet fuel prices, operators are looking for additional sources of revenue, and charging extra for baggage is an obvious solution. “Airlines have set excess baggage sales targets and check-in staff are incentivized (to get more customers to pay),” said Mark Martin, founder of Martin Consultancy. “This was there before, but now has gotten more pronounced and focused.

“For low-cost carriers, it’s taken more strictly, because the whole idea for budget carriers is to augment their revenue from other streams.”

It is not uncommon for airlines to charge extra even if the baggage exceeds the limit by just 1 kilogram. Some passengers have even reported getting their hand baggage checked at the boarding gate.

“Full-service carriers tend to be a bit more accommodating if you have about one or two kg extra,” aid Martin. “You can request them and they can let it go, but now, even they are becoming stricter.”

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways offers a ‘hand baggage only’ option, which tends to be the cheapest and allows passengers to take a cabin bag weighing up to 7 kg. According to some travel agents, Turkish Airlines could start offering this service soon.

“This is part of efforts to take on low-cost carriers,” said Suraj Ramesh from Al Badie Travel Agency. “But the limits placed on baggage numbers could also be to help optimize the process – it is not solely motivated by money alone”

What are airlines allowing?

Air Arabia (checked baggage)

For one-way flights origination from UAE, these apply:

* 20 kg in 1 piece: starting from Dh15 per passenger

* 30 kg in 1 piece: starting from Dh15 per passenger

* 30 kg total baggage in up to 2 pieces: starting from Dh20 per passenger

* 40 kg total baggage in up to 2 pieces: starting from Dh20 per passenger

Air Arabia offers a free hand baggage allowance of 10 kg. Hand baggage allowance per passenger must not exceed the mentioned weight and dimensions should not exceed 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, including the handle, pockets and wheels. Infants under two years old are entitled to one standard-sized bag.

Indigo airline

For flights from Dubai to India, these baggage rules apply:

Check-in baggage: 30 kg per person (two piece only). For eligible passengers with ‘6E Double Seat’ or ‘6E Triple Seat’ bookings, an additional 10 kg allowance will be applicable.

Hand baggage: One hand bag up to 7 kg and 115 cm (length + width + height) is allowed per customer.

Air India Express

According to a recent update from the airline on its Twitter handle, no passenger shall be permitted to carry more than one piece of hand baggage. It was not immediately clear if this applied to international flights as well.

Cabin baggage allowed is 7 kg (Including duty free Items) per adult and child passenger, and the dimensions must not exceed 20x14x9 inches. Hand baggage found to be in excess will be retrieved at the boarding gate and passengers will need to pay applicable charges.

Etihad Airways

Etihad offers various baggage options:

In GuestSeat Economy, passengers can take 7 kg cabin baggage along with a personal item that weighs up to 5kg. The checked baggage should not exceed 23 kg. In Economy Sale, passengers can only carry cabin baggage and a personal item (like a laptop). If guests opt for Economy Choice, they get up to 30 kg of checked baggage allowance and that number increases to 35kg under Economy Choice Plus.

More airlines will join in

While the tightening rules may be a source of concern and irritation for frequent flyers, more airlines – budget or full-service – are expected to take this route. “Airlines are allowed to take the extra money legally – they are not doing anything wrong,” Martin said. “Post-Covid, it will be a standard practice for all airlines”

Even with new revenue streams, airlines will have to transfer the cost to the passengers through higher airfares. “Typically, we would have said that an increasing oil price takes about six months to find its way through into ticket pricing,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General, said during a media briefing last week. “But given the very rapid increase that we have seen, I think it’s likely to be reflected in ticket pricing a lot earlier.”

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