Flying abroad? Not declaring goods may land you in trouble

MUMBAI: After angadias emerged from anonymity following a recent raid on trucks filled with cash, gold and diamonds, people have been asking if a person carrying a lot of money and valuables can be pulled up for doing so, especially if one is flying. Can a flyer be refused security clearance for carrying cash and valuables above a limit? The rules are different for international and domestic travel.

As per customs rules, for carrying gold and expensive items from India to other countries, one needs to procure a certificate from the precious cargo complex a day in advance.

For travelling abroad, one needs to be careful about one’s baggage. It is usual for one to carry jewellery, cash and expensive gadgets, but unless one declares the goods and their value before leaving, one can fall into customs’ net upon return. As per customs rules, for carrying gold and expensive items from India to other countries, one needs to procure a certificate from the precious cargo complex a day in advance. Upon return, the certificate can be shown to customs to claim duty exemption. “The traveler can thus leave the airport without any hassle,” said an officer from the Air Intelligence Unit.

What about bringing home goods bought abroad? “One needs to pay duty if one brings into the country things that cost more than a certain limit,” said a customs official. The duty is 36% for goods worth more than Rs 35,000. For gold, the duty regime is more liberal for women, the allowance being amounts costing up to Rs 20,000. For men, the limit is Rs 10,000. Amounts of gold above these limits attract a duty of 36%. As for cash, one is allowed to bring into the country $5 000 and an equal amount in traveler’s cheques (above what one declared at the time of leaving India).

Customs officials say travelers should never knowingly hide valuables to escape duty. “If discovered, they need to pay a fine apart from duty. It could also lead to an arrest and a court case,” said an official. “In 20-30% of the cases, the intention is not smuggling, but the cases are classified as such.”

What about domestic travel? Well, there is no rule on carrying cash, gold, jewels or gadgets, which means one can carry whatever one feels like and in any quantity. “We do not set limits on such items as they do not pose a haz ard to aircraft security,” said an official of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

But then the income tax department comes into the picture. “If the department receives a tipoff that someone is carrying a huge quantity of cash, its officials can stop and interrogate the flyer,” said an officer. “If one can produce a receipt or otherwise show the origin of the cash, there is no problem.”

Source: The Times of India


Emirates to introduce shisha lounges onboard A380 fleet

DUBAI: Emirates has announced that it plans to trial new shisha lounges aboard its A380 fleet. In a statement released this morning, the Dubai-based airline revealed that the lounges would be available to business and first class passengers on several of its long-haul routes flown using Airbus’ superjumbo, starting from next month.

Premium passengers will be able to order a shisha from their seat, before retiring to the Signature Shisha Room where it will be prepared by an expert. Pictures: Emirates

 

“Alongside unique offerings such as our Signature Spa and Onboard Lounges, with our new Signature Shisha Rooms premium customers will be now be able to relax amid luxurious surroundings with a traditional waterpipe,” the airline said in a press release.

“This new service will provide our Middle Eastern passengers with the sort of home comforts they’ve come to expect on our award-winning airline, while presenting those flying to the Middle East for the first time with the opportunity to sample one of the true tastes of Arabia before they’ve even landed.”

According to the statement, passengers will be able to pre-order a shisha from the onboard menu while at their seat and retire to the lounge after the main meal.

Emirates added that, should the trials run smoothly, it hopes to have the shisha service operational across its entire fleet of A380s by the year end.

Source: The Pan-Arabia Enquirer


Flyers to pay more for heavy bags, changed travel plans

NEW DELHI: Flying with heavy bags, changing travel plans and not showing up for your flight will be an expensive affair from next week. Air India has decided to reduce the free check-in weight from 20 kg to 15 kg for economy class domestic flyers from Monday. Jet and JetKonnect will follow suit from Wednesday. The Jet group and AI will charge Rs 250 per kg for excess baggage (beyond 15 kg) from people flying within the country. Registered frequent flyers and business class passengers have been spared this new rule.

Flyers who have heavy bags, change travel plans and do not show up for thier flight will have to pay more from next week.

In addition, AI has also hiked the no-show, cancellation and itinerary change fees. Jet had earlier made its lowest fare tickets non-refundable and now AI has done that and a lot more.

For lowest fare economy tickets, re-issue or date change will now cost Rs 1,500 — twice the earlier fee of Rs 750. These tickets remain non-refundable in case of no shows.

Mid range fare bucket tickets have now been made non-refundable while AI earlier used to charge Rs 500 as penalty from no-shows and allow them to use it on some other flight. Changing this fare level’s tickets will now cost Rs 1,000, up from earlier Rs 500.

Not showing up has also been made expensive for passengers with highest fare levels of economy and business class tickets of AI. The no-show charge has been hiked to Rs 1,000 from the earlier Rs 200. The airline has decided to continue with its policy of not charging anything from such passengers for an itinerary change.

A senior AI official said: “Our flights are going 80% full now and business class is also seeing good occupancy. We are offering economical fares and not showing up means a dead loss for us. These charges have been hiked as an attempt to help us keep offering low base fares to passengers and keep flying affordable.”

AI earlier had excess baggage charge between Rs 150 and Rs 400 per kg, depending on the distance. While passengers had to pay Rs 280 per kg for extra baggage on Delhi-Mumbai route, the charge for Delhi-Kochi was Rs 400. The airline has now moved to a flat rate of Rs 250, which has been the practice at other Indian carriers like Jet and IndiGo.

AI is now tweaking its software to start charging from pre-booking of seats. Low-cost carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet, which used to charge for this facility till two years back before the Directorate General of Civil Aviation stopped them from doing so, may restart this fee anytime now. IndiGo will charge a fee of Rs 500 for sitting in row numbers one, two, 12 and 13 (emergency rows that have extra leg room) on domestic flights and Rs 800 on international routes. Pre-booking other window and aisle seats will cost Rs 200 and Rs 300 for domestic and internationals flights, respectively.

After domestic flyers, Indian carriers will look at international flights too to increase ancillary revenue. AI is first going to re-examine the free baggage check-in on flights between India and Gulf and Southeast Asia. Later it may change baggage norms for flights to Europe and North America too.

“Airlines know what charges are to be put where but are just waiting for someone to make the first move,” admitted an official.

Source: The Times of India


Flyers may have to remove belts, shoes for airport checks

NEW DELHI: Flyers in India may soon be required to take off their shoes and belts to clear pre-boarding security checks just like in all US and some European airports.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has conducted a pilot project for this at Delhi’s terminal 1D and is now examining the possibility of implementing the procedure that involves asking passengers to put away all metallic objects before they pass through detectors and then get frisked.

“We have got data from the pilot project at Delhi and are examining the modifications that need to be made to existing x-ray machines at security counters. The conveyor belt will need to be longer to accommodate more items going though the scanner and the output conveyor belt (from where baggage is picked up after screening) will also need to be modified,” said a senior official.

In western airports where passengers are required to take off their shoes and belts, flyers put the footwear along with cabin baggage in the same try with the laptops kept separately. In India, however, aviation security authorities recognize that local customs and traditions may require having separate trays for footwear as people may not like to put their other stuff in the same tray as their shoes.

“We plan to have same colour trays just for shoes and other metallic objects at all airports so that there is uniformity,” said the official.

This change in security check practice is being considered by BCAS to shorten serpentine queues at frisking counters as well as enhance the quality of checking. “The idea is not to have any metallic object (except medical implants) on the person of a flyer before sending him or her to detectors currently used or the millimetre wave technique body scanners being considered for some airports. If despite that there is a beep sound, then just that portion will be frisked from where the beep emanated,” said sources.

The BCAS is examining the millimetre wave technique body scanners as it does not show the contours of the body, thereby minimizing fears that these machines will be an intrusion on privacy. The health issues involved with the machine are also being examined. Body scanners using two other techniques—back scatter and x-ray—have been rejected by BCAS.

Source: The Times of India


Kingfisher Airlines declares partial lockout, suspends flights till Thursday

MUMBAI: Kingfisher Airlines tonight declared a partial lockout with immediate effect and suspended till Thursday flight operations which came to a grinding halt following a strike by a section of its employees.

In a statement, the Vijay Mallya-owned private carrier said it has been forced to declare a “partial lockout” following a series of “protracted and unabated incidents of violence, criminal intimidation, assault, wrongful restraint and other illegal acts” including refraining from attending work, by a small section of “recalcitrant” employees.

Kingfisher airlines management earlier in the day warned of a temporary shutdown, citing lack of funds to pay salaries even for a month.

The airline said the action by the recalcitrant employees who have regrettably chosen to take law into their own hands forcing a complete paralysis of operations were all “unnecessary and unprovoked.”

“It has been decided that flight operations will be suspended for the next 3 days, i.e. until October 4, 2012,” it added.

The operations got completely paralysed today after pilots and some other staff joined the strikingengineers protesting non-payment of salaries for the last six months, sending the shares of the airline tumbling by 5 per cent.

Before commencing legal action, the airline said it will make efforts to continue to engage withstriking employees to persuade them not to indulge in any intimidatory tactics.

The management earlier in the day warned of a temporary shutdown, citing lack of funds to pay salaries even for a month.

“We had a long meeting with the CEO Sanjay Aggarwal but no solution has come out rather he threatened a temporary shutdown saying it did not have funds to pay salaries even for a month,” a representative of the striking engineers who was part of the meeting told PTI here tonight.

The meeting between the representatives of striking engineers and Aggarwal lasted for around two-and-a half-hours.

With its engineers on strike, Kingfisher reportedly approached Air India and others for getting its aircraft checked for certification.

Earlier in the day, the aviation minister Ajit Singh had said, “We can’t allow Kingfisher to fly until their aircraft are certified. (Since) their engineers are on strike, they can get the planes certified by other engineers also.”

However, the minister warned that if the DGCA finds that Kingfisher is not sticking to its schedule or violating safety norms, action will be initiated.

Significantly, Singh ruled out shutting down the airline saying, “the government is not in the business of shutting down businesses,” as that will “create lot of problems. Even with the 3 percent market share Kingfisher has, such a move will create a havoc.”

For the second day today, operations of the private carrier were paralysed as most of its pilots and engineers, who have not been paid for the six months, struck work.

Source: The Times of India