Excess baggage in flight to cost a lot more!

Yogesh Sarkar

Delhi High Court has set aside DGCA’s order, which had pegged the rate of excess baggage at Rs. 100/kg beyond the free baggage allowance. Now the airlines are free to charge up to Rs. 350/kg + taxes for excess baggage!

Checking in more than 15 kg on domestic flights could now blow a big hole in your pocket. The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) order that capped excess baggage charge at Rs 100 per kg for each extra kilo between 15 kg and 20 kg. While airlines were earlier free to charge any amount as excess baggage charge beyond 20 kg, they can now go back to their old fee of up to Rs 350 per kg beyond 15 kg itself. For flyers, it could mean shelling out up to Rs 250 more per kg in the 15-20 kg band.

About two years back, all Indian carriers — except Air India — had reduced free check-in baggage allowance for economy class domestic flyers from 20 kg to 15 kg. They then started charging anywhere upto Rs 350 per kg for each kilo beyond 15 kg. After getting complaints from passengers, the DGCA last summer directed airlines not to charge more than Rs 100 per kg for extra baggage between 15 and 20 kg. Beyond 20 kg, they were free to charge any amount per kg as excess baggage charge.

On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court set aside the aviation regulator's order capping excess baggage charge at Rs 100 per kg in the 15-20 kg band. The court said DGCA had no power to fix such tariff for excess checked-in baggage. The Federation of Indian Airlines, which has carriers like IndiGo, Jet, GoAir and SpiceJet as members, challenged this order.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru on Wednesday set aside the DGCA's June 10, 2016, circular according to which private airlines had been allowed to charge Rs 100 per kg in the 15-20 kg band as against their earlier rates, ranging from Rs 220 to Rs 350. The court order means the airlines are now free to revert to their old fee structure that meant passengers paying steep amounts for the baggage being excess by a few kilograms.

The circular had come into effect from July 1 last year as the court had not stayed it or deferred the date of implementation, after the airlines had come to it challenging the move and arguing against it. The court had then clarified that the amounts charged by the airlines would be restored if the FIA succeeded in its plea challenging the circular.

FIA, in its plea argued that DGCA did not have the jurisdiction to fix tariff as this power rested with the airlines and the fares were determined by the market forces. It had said that the DGCA can interfere only when there are specific instances of discriminatory practices and such circulars cannot be issued in a general manner.

Currently, all domestic carriers allow free checked-in baggage up to 15 kg. Only Air India allows free baggage up to 23 kg.

Source: Times of India.