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Air India Revamps Baggage Allowance: Choice or Hidden Fees?

May 4, 2024

Flying with Air India? Be prepared for changes to your baggage allowance! The airline recently implemented a revised baggage policy for domestic flights, bringing its limits more in line with competitors. This move has sparked conversation among frequent flyers, prompting questions about convenience, cost-effectiveness, and adapting to a new fare structure. Let’s delve into the details of Air India’s new baggage allowance policy and explore the implications for passengers.

Farewell to One-Size-Fits-All: Introducing Fare Families

In 2023, Air India introduced a new pricing model based on “fare families” – Comfort, Comfort Plus, and Flex – within each cabin class (Economy, Premium Economy, and Business). These fare families offer varying benefits and restrictions at different price points. The recent baggage allowance revisions are directly tied to this fare family system.

New Baggage Limits: Understanding the Changes

Previously, Air India offered a flat baggage allowance for each cabin class. The new policy assigns specific weight limits to each fare family within a class. Here’s a breakdown of the changes:

  • Economy Class:
    • Comfort and Comfort Plus: Reduced from 20 kg and 25 kg to 15 kg each.
    • Flex: Remains unchanged at 25 kg.
  • Premium Economy:
    • Comfort Plus: Reduced from 30 kg to 15 kg.
    • Flex: Reduced from 35 kg to 25 kg.
  • Business Class:
    • Comfort Plus: Reduced from 35 kg to 25 kg.
    • Flex: Reduced from 40 kg to 35 kg.

Aligning with the Competition: A Strategic Move?

Air India’s revised baggage allowance brings them closer to competitor airlines in the domestic market. IndiGo, the leading budget carrier, offers a standard 15 kg allowance in Economy. Vistara, another full-service airline under the Tata Group (which also owns Air India), uses a similar fare family system with slightly higher baggage allowances for select fare categories.

By adopting a more competitive approach, Air India aims to attract a wider range of budget-conscious travelers while still catering to those who value higher baggage allowances and additional perks.

The Rationale Behind Fare Families: Choice and Value, or Hidden Costs?

Air India argues that the fare family system empowers passengers to choose the level of service and baggage allowance that best suits their needs. This approach offers greater flexibility compared to a one-size-fits-all model. Additionally, the airline highlights that the price difference between fare families, particularly between Comfort Plus and Flex, can be offset by the value of the additional baggage allowance, loyalty points, free seat selection, and other benefits included in the Flex fare.

However, some passengers view the new system as a way for Air India to generate additional revenue by charging extra for baggage that was previously included in the base fare. The need to carefully compare fare family options and potentially pay extra for checked baggage can be a source of frustration for travelers accustomed to the older, simpler system.

Planning Your Trip: Navigating the New Baggage Allowance

Understanding the new baggage allowance system is crucial when booking your next Air India flight. Here are some tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with the fare families and their associated baggage allowances. Air India’s website provides a clear breakdown of these details.
  • Carefully consider your baggage needs. If you typically travel light, a lower fare family with a 15 kg allowance might suffice. However, if you require more space for checked luggage, opting for a higher fare family or purchasing excess baggage might be necessary.
  • Compare prices across fare families. While a higher fare family might seem expensive at first glance, factor in the value of additional baggage allowance, other included perks, and potential cost savings compared to purchasing excess baggage separately.

Air India Baggage Allowance: A Final Word

Air India’s revised baggage allowance policy represents a significant shift for the airline. While it brings Air India more in line with industry standards and offers passengers greater choice, it also introduces a layer of complexity for travelers who need to navigate the fare family system and potentially pay extra for checked baggage.

Ultimately, the success of this new approach will depend on how effectively Air India communicates the benefits of fare families and convinces passengers that the value proposition outweighs the additional costs associated with exceeding the base baggage allowance. Time will tell how this new system is received by Air India’s customer base.

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