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BL Explainer: One hand luggage policy 

T.E. Raja Simhan | Updated on: Jan 23, 2022
Representative image

Representative image | Photo Credit: Ralf Geithe

All about the new rule, exemptions and more

Will Air passengers be allowed to carry just one hand luggage?

Yes. In all domestic flights, passengers will be allowed to carry only one hand bag other than those items, including lady’s hand bag, already listed in previous circulars issued by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)

When will this rule apply?

The new rule took effect on January 19.

Are there any exemptions?

If a passenger is travelling with a baby, the child’s food, carrying basket, feeding bottle, is allowed. For those dependent, a collapsible wheelchair or pair of crutches or braces are also allowed. There is no clarity if a laptop is allowed. However, at present some of the airlines allow a passenger to carry one piece of hand baggage with maximum weight of 7 kg, and a personal item like a lady’s hand or a laptop bag and duty-free shopping bags, free of cost.

Why this new rule/circular?

This is not a new rule. The BCAS has only reemphasised the strict implementation of its previous circulars of 06/2000 and 11/2000 that no passenger should be permitted to carry more than one hand luggage. It is to ease the congestion and security concerns at the security points. The Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of security at airports, has been seeking introduction of the ‘one hand bag’ policy for a long time. Currently for economy class domestic travel 7 kg for cabin baggage (hand baggage) is allowed. It has been seen that on an average a passenger carries 2-3 hand bags, including small trolley, laptop bag or a handbag, to the screening point. This causes increased clearance time and also delays. Henceforth, only one cabin bag weighing 7 kg will be allowed.

What are the airlines saying?

Airlines are worried that they will have more responsibility in implementing this as the onus is on them to inform passengers and to display "one hand bag rule' on their tickets / boarding passes very conspicuously. Airlines may be made responsible and forced to depute staff to guide passengers, check and verify their hand bag status before allowing the passenger for pre-embarkation security checks. This will lead to a lot of arguments between passengers and airline staff.

Is this rule unique to India?

No. Baggage rules are nationally and internationally common though some exceptions may be brought in by local governments because of peculiar reasons. Similarly, baggage eligibility in terms of weight and number of pieces are determined by respective airlines that are driven by commercial considerations.

Published on January 23, 2022
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