NEW DELHI: Flying between India and North America — that anyway costs a fortune these days due to sky-high airfares and a weak rupee — could now get even more expensive for those who don’t exactly travel light.
German mega carrier Lufthansa will permit only one check-in bag of upto 23 kg without extra charge to economy passengers booking tickets starting Monday (Aug 1) to fly between India and North America, halving from the earlier allowance of two bags. Passengers who have booked tickets before till July 31 will not be charged extra on this count.
For those booking now, checking in the second bag will cost Euro 200 if purchased online in advance or Euro 250 for doing so at the check-in counter. So a person booking an economy Delhi-New York or Vancouver-Delhi ticket on Lufthansa will now have to shell out Euro 400 extra for the return trip for checking-in the second bag if purchased in advance; or Euro 500 if paying for the second bag at check-in counter.
Senior EU airline officials say skyrocketing oil prices have forced them to look at maximising revenue from cargo hold by making passengers pay extra for the second bag and/or leave more space for paid cargo by dissuading many from checking-in two bags. More airlines globally could follow suit.
US carriers have for the past few years been allowing only one check-in bag without an extra charge from economy passengers. Air India allows two, and this is among the factors that have made its North America nonstops a favourite with travellers despite a sub-optimal onboard experience on its relatively old fleet of aircraft that were poorly maintained in the Maharaja’s sate-owned days.
A leading travel agent shared a communication from Lufthansa that said: “Effective August 1, 2022, Lufthansa Group’s check-in free baggage policy has been aligned with our Atlantic Joint Venture Partners, United Airlines and Air Canada. On all routes between India and North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, etc) Lufthansa group together with its partners will offer one piece of free check-in baggage in economy class.”
“Baggage policies for all other compartments as well as additional free baggage allowance for status customers will remain unchanged. All bookings that have been ticketed until July 31, 2022, will be accepted as per the current baggage allowance,” the communication adds.
Travel Agents Federation of India joint secretary Anil Kalsi points out other ways in which flyers are now forced to shell out more. “Almost all international airlines’ lowest fares are now non-refundable in both economy and business. Buy a refundable ticket — that too after cancellation charges or penalty — about an additional Rs 20,000 has to be shelled out over the lowest fare class,” Kalsi said.