If you’re flying Air India’s domestic routes, you can carry up to 25kg of check-in baggage at no extra cost – this is 10kg more than the limit set by other airlines.
Bucking the trend to charge fliers extra for checked-in luggage, the national carrier on Tuesday raised the free check-in baggage quota. Domestic fliers on all economy class tickets can carry 25kg check-in baggage for free on flights operated between August 12, 2015 and February 7, 2016. People travelling with infants will get an additional 10kg of baggage in the aircraft belly, the airline said.
“It is a short-term promotional offer to help travellers ahead of the peak season. Indians like to travel heavy, particularly during the festive season that will start towards the end of the year,” said an Air India spokesperson.
Industry sources said AI’s move could be aimed at recovering its lost market share in the Indian skies. Once the market leader, the oldest airline now caters to just over 15% domestic fliers in the country, while newcomers such as Indigo rule the market, handling some four of 10 domestic air travellers in India.
Until mid-2013, all domestic carriers offered 20kg free check-in baggage. But the quota was slashed by five kilos after the civil aviation ministry introduced a policy that allowed airlines to unbundle airfares and charge travellers for frills, such as extra baggage, large legroom seats, meals and carriage of fragile goods.
“AI’s move has the potential to catch the pulse of Indian fliers. Unlike air travellers in mature aviation markets who travel light, Indians like to carry loads of baggage,” said an industry expert, a member of a government-appointed panel, requesting anonymity.
The AI chief however, concealed the airline’s strategy. “My thoughts are reflected in the decision,” said Rohit Nandan, the chairman and managing director of Air India, responding to a text message from HT.