Air India Reduces Baggage Allowance To Prevent Fuel Stops

Filed Under: Air India

In late February Pakistan’s airspace closed, which is having huge impacts on airlines globally. This doesn’t just impact flights to and from Pakistan, but also flights between other regions, given how central their airspace is.

One airline greatly impacted by this airspace closure is Air India, given that many of their routes to North America and Europe used this airspace. So a few weeks ago I wrote about how Air India has adjusted their schedule on several US routes in light of this.

As I noted at the time:

  • Some flights from India to the US are routing via Vienna to refuel
  • Some flights from India to the US are routing via Mumbai rather than Delhi
  • Some flights are making fuel stops based on the winds on particular days

One of Air India’s only flights to not have a schedule change is their Mumbai to Newark flight. The flight has been taking payload restrictions (meaning they haven’t been able to take all passengers and/or cargo), but it has continued to operate nonstop.

Well, in light of this situation, Air India has lowered the baggage allowance on the flight between Mumbai and Newark only. Specifically, for tickets issued as of April 1, 2019, Air India reduced the economy baggage allowance on the Mumbai to Newark route from two bags to one. The maximum weight limit per bag continues to be 23kg.

There are two things that I find especially interesting here:

  • This isn’t a hard limit, so you can still pay $50 for an extra or overweight bag; if the flight is indeed weight restricted, shouldn’t they not even let people pay for a second bag?
  • The flight from Mumbai to Washington is 200 miles longer than the flight to Newark, and it’s operated by the same plane, yet the restriction doesn’t apply to that

Bottom line

It’s interesting to see Air India respond to the current situation by reducing the baggage allowance in economy on one route. I believe that their intentions are right given the payload restrictions the route has been subjected to, but I still find it strange that you can pay for extra baggage, and that the flight to Washington Dulles isn’t impacted by this.

It’s something to be aware of if you’re traveling with Air India, though.

(Tip of the hat to Live from a Lounge)

  1. Well, how many people will bring an extra bag if its free? Yep, many. And if they have to pay? Yep, very few.

  2. The United flights to EWR from DEL and BOM have been stopping in Munich. Does not seem to be impacting the flights to India.

  3. Those familiar with travel within India know that Indians commonly travel with (as Indians say, not I) “everything but the kitchen sink.”

    Robert’s comment above addresses this issue of how to get people to travel with less.

  4. Good way to test market while having something to blame for the implementation if its received poorly.

  5. Nobody travels like people from the Indian Subcontinent. We pack to the max and then are seen rearranging things from suitcase to the other at the check in counters to balance the weight. Families back home means gifts for everyone including friends. Be prepared should you plan to visit friends and families back home you better not go empty handed. Nonetheless you will be showered with the utmost hospitality.

  6. Ben are you sure AI flies to IAD from BOM. I travel through Mumbai a good amount on red-eyes and that’s never one of the US bound AI flights I see?

  7. @joe biden,

    Since Pakistan closed its airspace, Air India has been operating BOM-IAD instead of DEL-IAD.

  8. @Myro,

    Pakistan airspace opened last week but there are some restrictions still. Flights from in and out of Indian and Thailand Airports still are not to be allowed in the Pakistani Airspace.

  9. IAD doesn’t have enough loads and/or mostly diplomatic traffic who don’t carry too many baggage

  10. Summer vacations have started in India + NJ has a large presence of people of Indian origin = lot of bags. I do think that the “pay $50” option is a typo as AI simply won’t be allowed to raise charges under this pretext.

  11. Those extra dollars they have to pay, will it cover the difference if they traveled with a European or Middle Eastern carrier?

  12. @Lucky – The number of people in India willing to pay for ANYTHING extra (especially for things like excess baggage) is basically zero, especially considering that $50 (₹3445) is a decent bit of money by Indian standards.

  13. The way they handle all the changes in their route network is terrible.

    Many of their routes have changes departure and arrival times which is understandable.

    The problem is that they don’t have the customer care capacity to deal with the problems the changes will make

    As an example the flight to Copenhagen now departs 12:10 instead of 14:30. The flight from Colombo arrives 11:50 leaving just 20 min for the connection. Minimum connection time in Delhi is 60 minutes.

    Air India refuse to rebook to other carriers and suggests a flight with air India leaving 3 days later.

  14. @Anish

    From the number Indians I know who makes a decent living in IT. They will fly their family with Air India just because of the nonstop and language barrier. As cheap as most people stereotype them, they do have few lakhs to throw around to avoid air travel mayhem for first time flyers.

    Those are people who are filling up AI planes. Frequent Indian travelers seems to prefer ME3 more than AI.

  15. Does this really need explaining to you? Reducing the limit to one per person no doubt gives them a bit of leeway, allowing them to sell second bags to a handful of people and still be within the weight limit.

  16. I believe $50 for second bag on AI international flight is really good since all indian carriers including AI charges way more on domestic sector
    On domestic sector the charges are by weight for 2nd bag
    And charges are Rs. 400 per kg, so 23 kg or 50 lb. Bag will cost around Rs 9200 which equals to $125 per second piece

    This rates are highest among any aviation market you name it, so $50 I believe is cheaper compared to domestic market

  17. “Nobody travels like people from the Indian Subcontinent. We pack to the max and then are seen rearranging things from suitcase to the other at the check in counters to balance the weight. Families back home means gifts for everyone including friends. ”
    My Indian business partner always returns from India with excess baggage loaded to the gills with clothing, lighting, gifts and home-wares etc

    That said, travellers on AI are brave souls – it is very unreliable in timetabling, and I am sceptical about their safety standards, I travel to India often and never fly AI unless there is no other option. Flights in are best on SQ (from Australia) and domestically I prefer IndiGo

  18. Yes, Washington route was from Delhi, however after Pakistan airspace closed, the flight is stopping in Mumbai and then going ahead. SFO flight takes pacific route from Delhi, however the inbound flight is stopping in Vienna.

  19. My fellow Indians would take 6 bags each weighing 30 kg if they could :-). As a regular flyer, even though I have minimal baggage, I try to board as early as possible as I won’t get space in the overhead for my backpack!
    I once saw a family of 4 check in 8 full size suitcases, and then each bring a stroller and a backpack as carry ons! I kid you not. On return legs, add duty free to the mix.
    I once overheard one of the ground staff in Dubai remark that this is a 777, but seems to have the baggage equivalent of an A380

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.