Air India’s lower check-in baggage allowance irks passengers at Newark airport

Passengers at the Newark International Airport, Sept. 28, before boarding the flight to Mumbai. Many passengers, who were not aware of Air India’s new baggage rules, were upset when they discovered  that airline would allow only  one free check-in baggage in economy class instead of two. (Mohammed Jaffer/Snaps India)

Air India’s decision to lower free check-in baggage allowance in economy class on Newark-Mumbai fligh tcaused resentment recently among some Indian passengers travelling from Newark International airport in New Jersey to Mumbai, apparently because they had not been told before about the rule change announced by the airline in April this year.

“We did not know anything about it nor did the booking agent tell us about this new rule,” a woman passenger, who identified herself as Leqa Kamal, and was traveling from Newark to Hyderabad via Mumbai, said.

Kamal was at the airport with two pieces of luggage but had to leave one behind as the airline asked for $100 extra for allowing the second free check-in bag.Some other Indian-American passengers were also equally agitated over not being allowed to carry two pieces of luggage in economy class, which is allowed by most airlines, including Air India in other U.S.-India routes.

Some passengers felt that this was attempt by the airline to fleece passengers. Most passengers said they do not read hidden rules while buying a ticket.

Air India officials in New York did not return calls at press time for comment.

Air India introduced the new free baggage rules effective April 1 this year only on the Newark-Mumbai route both ways due to technical problems on the Mumbai runway.

“Because of obstructions along the take-off path from Mumbai runway 27, we had to reduce the weight of the aircraft so that it could climb out safely. We did that by flying empty seats. Now, we have decided to reduce baggage allowance instead and cut losses”an Air India official told the Times of India newspaper in Mumbai April 1.

A frequent Air India passenger living in New Jersey, who travels from Newark to Hyderabad via Mumbai, said that he was aware of the new rule when he flew to Hyderabad via Mumbai this summer.

“I agree that this lower free check-in baggage allowance certainly is an issue for many passengers, especially those who travel with their family and children, but I think any passenger is expected to read the baggage rules on Air India’s website before traveling. That is how I came to know of the new rule,” Krishna Reddy Anugula, Overseas Friends of BJP President, and a frequent traveler to Hyderabad, told this correspondent.

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