NEW DELHI: Flying within the country without any check-in baggage could soon get much cheaper. Light fares offered by airlines for passengers with only cabin baggage, before the two-month domestic flight suspension last March, could be lower by a maximum of Rs 200 from the lowest level check-in baggage inclusive fares.
While, flyers buying light fare tickets turning up at airports with check-in bag could be charged up to Rs 200 (for up to 15 kg bag).
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has now removed this restriction, paving the way for airlines to offer much lower light fares for domestic flights.
However, this change will be effective when the fare bands for domestic flights are done away with, something that is likely to happen when flights return to pre-pandemic levels this summer.
“Being able to offer light fares that were lower by only Rs 200 from the lowest level of check-in baggage inclusive fares meant there was not much difference and this scheme could not reach its potential. Now with the ceiling gone, airlines will be able to make use of cabin bag-only fares in a big way by offering really lighter fares. This is a really good move,” said an airline official.
The order issued by DGCA chief Arun Kumar on Thursday has asked airlines to ensure that the charges for passengers who buy light fares and then turn up with airport with check-in bag are “reasonable”.
“As part of airline baggage policy, scheduled airlines will be allowed to offer free baggage allowance as well as ‘zero baggage/no check-in baggage fares’. This will be subject to the condition that the passenger booking ticket under such fare scheme is made aware of the charges that shall be applicable if the passenger turns up with the baggage for check-in at airline counter. These applicable charges shall be reasonable; prominently displayed to the passenger at the time of booking of ticket and also to be printed on the ticket,” Arun Kumar’s order says.
When scheduled domestic flights were resumed on May 25, 2020, the aviation ministry has put in place fare bands for them. The new rule for domestic flights’s light fares will be enforced when the fare bands are done away with, the order adds.