Airlines Tighten Screws on 'Heavy' Hand Baggage

If you’ve stuffed your stroller to the brim and still nurse hopes that it’ll get waved through as hand baggage, you may want to rethink your strategy.

Published: 23rd July 2015 01:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2015 01:03 AM   |  A+A-


CHENNAI: If you’ve stuffed your stroller to the brim and still nurse hopes that it’ll get waved through as hand baggage, you may want to rethink your strategy. Ever since the DGCA cracked the whip on the airlines’ attempt to make check-in baggage itself an added extra, air carriers have gotten a wee bit stricter about allowing overweight bags into the cabin.

“I was boarding an Indigo flight to Delhi two weeks ago and it was my normal travel case that I had packed with sweets and stuff. When I was checking in, the girl at the counter politely asked me to weigh my bag. I stiffly complied but found that it was 9.2 kg, which is par for the course,” said Sriman S, designer. “She told me that 7 kg was the limit and that I’d have to check it in. I said that I’d flown in with the same amount and that it was barely over the limit, but she was firm and I ended up checking it in,” he added.

Spicejet had set the ball rolling in late April when they launched their #FlyLight sale — that offered fares cheap to passengers who only brought hand baggage. If their bags were over the limit or they needed to check-in extra, then they’d have to pay a flat Rs 750 at the airport. The sale did well, but the DGCA didn’t take it too well. In a circular released on July 6, the aviation watchdog made it amply clear that airlines could unbundle and charge for anything from food to extra baggage — as long as they gave every passenger 15kg of check-in baggage free.

Passengers have also said that airlines like Indigo and Spicejet among others have begun looking at the dimensions of the hand baggage more closely. “If it’s longer or broader than the set dimensions, then we are asked to check it in. This is getting to be a real bother at the other end because we need to wait for a long time for the baggage to come out and we don’t know if the electronics inside will be safe,” said Anu Mehta, a frequent flyer.

The real risk for passengers here — who usually plan their luggage to the hilt — is that they would already be carrying a large bag for check-in. If the hand baggage is also pushed to that category, it will push the total weight well over the 15 kg-limit, leading to passengers having to pay obscene amounts of money, by the kilogram. “The best way is to either drop useless things from your hand baggage or weigh your bags before you get to the airport. That way there won’t be any nasty surprises at the counter,” she added.

What’s the Good Size

  •   On domestic flights, cabin bags have to conform to 55x20x40 cm and the usual weight allowance is 7 kg. A few airlines are pliable up to 8 kg but anything above 9 kg or 10 kg is an absolute no-no.
  •   All music instruments and sports gear have officially been unbundled and you’ll have to pay extra for them. There’s no way around this.
  •   IATA has come up with a smart traveller cabin bag that comes at the optimum size and cannot be packed beyond the prescribed limit unless the passenger carries rocks or extra-heavy luggage

What can you carry in your 7 kg bag?

  •   2-3 sets of clothes, unless they’re all denim, will weigh in at 2.5 to 3 kg.
  •   Files, folders and documents take up square footage inside but often weigh between 500 grams and 1 kg
  •   Gifts like sweets and savouries often bulk up baggage depending on how much you’ve bought. Usually 1-2 kg is the norm
  •   Miscellaneous travellers items like stationery, personal care and electronics often weigh in at 750 grams to 1 kg. You can often carry your laptop and electronics separately and save space
  •   Finally, depending on the quality of your suitcase/bag, this will set you back by 750 grams to 1.2 kg easily. So always account for that
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