Air India is the largest operator of non-stop flights between India and the United States. Currently, Air India operates 9x weekly Delhi – San Francisco flights, daily Delhi – Chicago flights, 3x weekly Delhi-Washington flights, daily Delhi – New York JFK flights and daily Mumbai – Newark flights, and also Mumbai – New York JFK flights.
Due to the prolonged closure of Pakistan airspace, Air India took a severe hit. Flights are being rerouted, and some routes have been cancelled altogether temporarily. Air India is losing around INR 5 – 7 crores (USD 0.7-1 million) a day due to this.
In the latest round of changes, Air India has cut to half the baggage allowance for Economy passengers on its daily Mumbai – Newark flight (AI 144/191). Air India used to offer a baggage allowance of 2 bags of 23 kg each for Economy passengers. Now, Air India has limited the allowance to just one bag of 23 kg for Economy passengers for tickets issued from April 1, 2019, onwards.
If you are connecting to or from any other destination for the Mumbai – Newark flight, the baggage allowance will still be one bag of 23 kg for the entire journey for Economy passengers. However, Flying Returns members and Star Alliance Gold/Silver members can still carry additional baggage allowance on the Newark flight based on their tier.
Business class and First class passengers can still carry two bags of 32 kgs each. This change is only for Air India’s Mumbai to Newark flight pair. Passengers travelling on Air India’s other flights, such as those to Chicago, Washington, JFK and San Francisco can carry two bags of 23 kg each in Economy.
Air India states that they face payload restrictions due to obstructions in flight path in Mumbai for the ultra long haul to the USA. Due to this, the baggage allowance was reduced. They stated that they have had to frequently leave checked bags of this flight behind at Mumbai airport, the better thing was to do this.
Air India currently operates AI 103 from Delhi to Washington via Mumbai due to Pakistan airspace closure. But the baggage allowance hasn’t been changed on this flight. Mumbai – Newark is 7807 miles whereas Mumbai-Washington Dulles is 8003 miles. Maybe the Mumbai – Newark has a higher passenger load factor than Delhi-Washington Dulles via Mumbai. Hence the payload penalty on Delhi – Washington Dulles via Mumbai didn’t have much effect.
Both the routes are operated by Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and currently have a flight time of 16:00 to 16:50 hours each due to the longer route. That’s one long flight on an Air India 777-300ER.
Air India slashing baggage allowance on Mumbai – Newark flight may not go down well with passengers. Air India had the edge over other carriers due to a non-stop flight and a generous baggage allowance. Air India is now in line with other carriers especially American and European carriers who offer one bag of 23 kg in Economy on India – USA non-stop/one-stop routes. United also offers a non-stop flight on the same route.
Payload restrictions on Air India’s Mumbai-Newark flight aren’t new. Air India has had to restrict the weight on flights to Newark several times due to weather and also due to hoarding in the flight path near Mumbai airport. Let’s see when will Pakistan airspace finally open up. Will Air India retract this move once the Pakistan airspace is fully open? We don’t know.
Update: From July 1, 2019, Air India has increased the cost for an extra piece (2nd check-in bag) for economy passengers on the Mumbai-Newark route to USD 100 from USD 50.
What are your thoughts on this move? How does it impact your choice of Air India as your carrier to the USA