In June 2015, SpiceJet had announced its hand baggage only fares, which gave discount for passengers travelling with hand baggage alone for domestic flights. It was meant to encourage travelers to travel light so that it will reduce fuel consumption, emission and thus helping the environment.
According to the SpiceJet guidelines, Cabin baggage of maximum 7 kg (which would include laptop and duty free shopping bags) having maximum overall dimensions of 115 cms. (L+W+H) on Boeing flights and 108 cms. (L+W+H) on Bombardier flights, is allowed to be carried per passenger, free of cost. Passengers with infants are allowed to carry an additional piece of hand baggage of maximum 7 kg., not exceeding the size dimensions, due to airport security regulations.If the luggage exceeds this limit, and travellers will have to pay additional fines.
This guideline was meant to help people but if you ask Shanmugham D. Jayan, Lawyer from Kochi, he’d say just the opposite. He was travelling from Kochi to Chennai on 24th of May under ‘Friends and Family’ scheme with his family. It was a ‘Hand Baggage’ only ticket. It was mentioned in the ticket that, if there was check in baggage they will have to pay Rs.400 in addition to the ticket price.
According to the passenger, he thought since there were four of them, they can carry 28 kg. and he just had a single cabin size bag and two small plastic bag as well, which met the dimensions but not the individual weight. He was surprised when he found that the bag weighed at 12 kg and thus SpiceJet personnel asked him to pay 400 and send it through check in luggage.
He was travelling along with his wife and two children, a 10 year old and a 12 year old son. SpiceJet officials recommended him to unpack the bag and divide dresses to other plastic bags to avoid this fine. Shanmugham was not ready to do that since he didn’t want his sons to carry the luggage because of its weight. So he paid the money and went on with his journey.
For infants there is an exception and additional hand baggage is allowed, but when travelling with family shouldn’t there be an exception on similar lines? Just like any other parent, Shanmugham didn’t want his son to carry the weight, we could see his point and we could even understand the side of Spice Jet personnel as they had to follow their guidelines. But is this how it is suppose to be?
When a flight ticket comes under ‘Friends and Family’ scheme, you just cannot expect people of a normal middle class family to pack their clothes in separate bags. Shanmugham says in his email to SpiceJet on the incident, “It appeared very funny and I also imagined the expectation of SpiceJet policy in respecting individuality of members of even a family comprising of small children.”
SpiceJet was contacted for the story and their statement said that the passenger was carrying check-in bag and their Airport staff charged Rs. 400 as per their policy. Shanmugham was carrying a cabin bag and was asked to go back and put along with check in baggage. He never had a choice.
Shanmugham said in his complaint mail send to Spice Jet, “I am not interested in each family member carrying their own dresses and also being bombarded with questions from my kids asking the logic of separately packing dresses which they have never seen before in any of our travel.”
Most of the families in India usually travel light and they don’t pack separately unless the kids are above a certain age limit. We can understand the airlines logic, but shouldn’t there be an exception when people travel as family in the matter of weight if the luggage meets the limited dimension given by the airlines?
Cover Image by Nisarg Vyas via Wikimedia Commons