As Jet reduces baggage allowance, others may follow suit

Fly light or pay more. Also, be prepared to shell out up to Rs. 500 more if you want to pre-book a preferred seat. Airlines have started reducing baggage allowance and charging a fee for allocating preferred seats— a few days after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) allowed them to charge for unbundled services like check-in baggage, preferential seats, meals, snacks, sports and musical instruments on domestic flights.

Air India announced plans, earlier this week, to reduce check-in baggage allowance from 20 kg to 15 kg in the domestic sector, from May 13, 2013. Two days after Air India’s decision, the Jet Airways Group, on Thursday, revised the free baggage allowance to 15 kg in economy class on all domestic travel within India— effective May 15, 2013.

The reduced baggage allowance is applicable for all Jet Airways and Jet Konnect flights. Cabin baggage will be restricted to 7 kg , as before. “A flat rate of Rs. 250 per kg will be applicable for baggage over and above the free baggage allowance,” Jet Airways said in a statement.

Excess baggage

“JetPrivilege members will continue to enjoy the additional free baggage, while Premiere guests would continue to avail 30 kg of free baggage,” it added.

Air India will also be charging Rs. 250 per kg for excess baggage. The 5 kg reduction in baggage allowance is vital for loss-making airlines. Other airlines are likely to follow suit.

Meanwhile, IndiGo has decided to charge a premium of Rs. 100 to Rs. 500 for pre-booked seats. A passenger opting for a seat in the first two rows, or near emergency exits, would need to fork out a premium of Rs. 500 for a domestic flight. Passengers who wish to pre-book a window or aisle seat will pay Rs. 200 more. It would cost Rs. 100 for pre-booking middle seats.

Global practices

“This is a significant step in aligning India with global practices in the airline industry, which offer certain optional services to the passenger on a payment basis distinct from the tariff, taxes and surcharges etc. which are common to all the passengers,” said Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo, in a statement.

“Our effort will be to provide a menu of service offerings to customers, and let the customers make a choice for the enhanced services. We will, accordingly, charge an amount for such choices that a customer wishes to exercise for his or her own convenience. These ancillary charges are optional in nature, and the passengers have a choice of accepting them before travel,” he said.