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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Cheap flying a myth with more ‘weightage’ to baggage allowance

Anupam Srivastava , Hindustan Times  Lucknow, August 01, 2013
First Published: 11:13 IST(1/8/2013) | Last Updated: 11:21 IST(1/8/2013)

Mounting charges for 'add-ons' make the notion of cheap flying sound like a myth.

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But whom do passengers turn to in order to get their grievances addressed?

Passenger frustration is increasing in the absence of a proper authority to bargain for consumer interests.

For instance, baggage management of airlines is one of the key factors attracting passengers.

However, with the advent of low-cost airlines, this system has become a cash cow for some carriers, with baggage allowance reduced from 20kg per passenger to 15 kg.

For each extra kilo, airlines are charging about R200.

"A suitcase weighs around 12 kg, and if you restrict load to just 15 kg, there is no point in travelling with a low cost airline," said Indian Industries Association divisional chairman Prashant Bhatia.

"Last time, my ticket to Delhi cost R2,645 but I had to shell out R2,000 extra, as my suitcase weighed 26kg. This according to me is a loot," he added.

There are other extras too that add to the cost of the flight-from meals to airline lounges, carrying musical instruments or sports equipment, and items declared valuable.

Carriers have also put a price on seat selection, with some even going as far as to charge for the middle seats if specially asked for, a report with the civil aviation ministry says.

Director airport Suresh Chandra Hota said in all these cases, one can lodge a protest with the civil aviation ministry or the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA).

"DGCA is there to take care of airlines and other operational trouble," said Hota.

However, member of International Transport Association of India and leading airlines agent Mohammed Shoaib says, "If all provisions are cleared by the civil aviation ministry, then the ministry is to be blamed. Passengers are supposed to lodge their complaints with the DGCA, which itself comes under the control of the ministry. So how can it reverse the ministry's decisions? That is why we need a separate appellate authority, like the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission, where people can go and lodge a complaint."

In the absence of a proper passenger body, which can represent or fight for their rights, these things would continue to trouble them, said Shoaib.


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