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Families travelling in large groups with a lot of luggage opting for train journey

Many big groups are opting not to fly

Sanjay Mandal | Published 01.12.23, 06:02 AM
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Representational image

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Air fares are still high, despite the festive season having long passed, and
luggage restrictions are pinching.

Many families travelling in large groups with a lot of luggage are opting for a train journey, while some are flying but sending luggage by courier.

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The marriage season is here and many people from outside Bengal are
visiting the city, the reason cited by airlines and tour operators to explain the high airfares.

Many of those coming to the city to attend marriage functions are travelling by train because of the luggage constraints imposed by airlines.

The airlines revised their baggage rules in October 2020 and several people The Telegraph spoke to said they have since tweaked their travel plans whenever possible.

Kolkata-based businessman Lalit Kalwani has a wedding in the family scheduled for December 5 and he has invited many friends and relatives from outside the state.

“A group of 35 is coming from Jaipur. Instead of flying, they will travel by the Ajmer-Sealdah Express,” said Kalwani.

“They will carry several pieces of luggage, which will far exceed the 15kg-per-passenger limit offered by most airlines. So, it is convenient to travel by train,” he said.

“Some are flying but they will carry light luggage,” he said.

Another city-based businessman, Vasu Moryani, will celebrate his 25th marriage anniversary on December 3. More than 60 guests from across the country are scheduled attend the event.

“More than 80 per cent of the invitees are coming by train because of luggage issues. They will board trains in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chennai and other places,” said Moryani.

Tour operators said they are seeing an increasing trend of people travelling by train to attend family programmes.

“This year, we are seeing a trend of big groups travelling by train for weddings. They don’t need to travel fast,” said Anil Punjabi, national committee member of the Travel Agents Federation of India, representing east.

“By avoiding flying, they are also saving thousands of rupees on luggage charges,” he said.

The airlines revised their baggage rules in October 2020.

Post-revision, IndiGo allow domestic fliers one piece of registered luggage per person, weighing up to 15kg, for free.

According to the airline, the additional pre-paid charge for up to 3kg of extra luggage is Rs 1,350 and for up to 5kg of extra luggage, Rs 2,250.

A passenger has to shell out more if the excess luggage payment is done at the check-in counter of the airline. “One has to pay more at the counter because there are special offers for pre-paid charges,” said an official.

SpiceJet, too, since October 2020, has been allowing one piece of free check-in luggage, weighing up to 15kg, on domestic flights. It charges Rs 2,250 for additional luggage up to 5kg.

Vistara, too, allows one piece of free check-in luggage, up to 15kg, per passenger in the economy class on domestic flights. The airline’s website says that if a passenger pays online for extra baggage, he or she is charged Rs 3,000 for up to 5kg if the payment is done between six and two hours before departure.

The amount is Rs 2,250 if the payment is made more than six hours before departure.

Some airlines offer 10kg of additional free luggage for students above 12 years.

In comparison, in AC three-tier coaches, one is allowed to carry up to 40kg of luggage for free. It is 50kg for AC two-tier coaches.

“The occupancy on some of the trains to and from north India, including Rajasthan, is more than 160 per cent in November. These trains are already having bookings of more than 100 per cent for December,” said an Eastern Railway official in Kolkata.

Excess of 100 per cent booking is because one berth can be reserved by multiple passengers who board or get off at different locations, said a railway official.

To avoid paying more, some people are sending bulk luggage through courier instead of carrying those with them on flights.

A woman from south Kolkata, who recently visited her parents in Bangalore, booked three cartons through a courier agency on her way back.

“I had three cartons of luggage, each would be around 15kg. It cost me around Rs 2,500 to bring the luggage from Bangalore to Kolkata by courier. It would have cost much more if I carried those with me on flight,” she said.

Last updated on 01.12.23, 06:02 AM
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