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


On beach holiday, desis high on intimacy with strangers

MUMBAI: After Singaporeans, it is Indians who are apparently most likely to indulge in intimacy with complete strangers on a beach holiday, a global survey done by an online travel portal has revealed. The recent survey threw up other improbable findings as well, the most striking being that Indians topped the list of global travelers opting for a sun-and-sand vacation—as many as 95% said they were likely to take a beach holiday this year.

“Eighteen per cent of Indian and 20% of Singaporean respondents said that intimacy with strangers is among the ways in which they typically indulge themselves on beach vacations,” the survey, an analysis of the behaviour and preferences among beachgoers in Asia, North America, South America, Europe and Australia, said. That’s not all. Twenty per cent Indian respondents—26% men and 3% women—said they have gone topless on beaches. Four per cent said they have gone nude, while 11% have done both.

The survey was conducted online across Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and South America among 8,606 respondents in 21 countries, including the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Brazil, South Korea, Japan and Australia. The highest number of respondents were from Canada (1,285), while in India the survey covered 485 people.

Among the interesting revelations was the coming of age of the Indian traveller—they now prefer to do their own research, check out reviews, blogs and social media while planning their vacation. They plan a beach holiday months in advance, contrary to the popular perception that Indians are last-minute travellers. They literally work towards the holiday by going on diets and going in for makeovers and shopping to get into that swimsuit.

Twenty six per cent respondents said they had postponed their beach vacation from less than one month to more than a year to get into shape. The trend was led by south Indians (28%) followed by Delhiites (27%) and Mumbaikars (23%). It is not surprising as 56% of Indians surveyed said they buy a new beach outfit for their vacation.

Another interesting finding is that the fair skin-obsessed country values a tan, perhaps aping the West. However, Indians do not get their tan on the beach. Rather, they start their beach holiday with a tanned body. “Forty six per cent Delhiites get tanned before their beach vacation. The national average is 27%.”

Indians were also are among the most fun-loving people when on vacation, with the highest percentage of any nationality being involved in various activities such as spa (47%), playing volleyball (43%), water sports (52%) and running (65%). India has the second highest percentage of shopping lovers on vacation (76%), behind Singapore (78%). The country stands third when it comes to enjoying nightlife and dancing (51%). The trend is led by Brazilians (64%) and Mexicans (57%).

Malaysians, at 68%, were the most likely to share their beach photos on social networking sites, while 57% Indians said they do the same. “About 54% of Indians email/text photos to family/friends, followed by South Koreans at 51% and Americans at 47%. Indians (34%) also blog about their experience, sharing photos/videos, a trend led by South Koreans with 39%,” the survey said.

The Expedia Flip Flop Report 2013 was conducted online by Harris Interactive from April 19 to May 15. Vikram Malhi, general manager, South and South East Asia, Expedia, said, “The survey shows a clear evolution of the Indian traveller with respect to planning and booking behaviour. Their reliance on third party reviews when choosing a holiday destination has increased. Indians topped in consulting traveller reviews (62%), travel guidebooks (58%), travel magazines/ TV shows (54%) and were second in consulting social media (42%), news stories (42%) and travel blogs (47%).”

In fact, nearly nine in ten (89%) vacationers who travelled or plan to travel internationally felt it was important to learn the local culture and history of their international beach vacation destinations, he said.

Source: The Times of India


Striking Air India pilots begin indefinite fast

NEW DELHI: Striking pilots of erstwhile Air India on Sunday began an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar and have vowed to remain there till the government starts a dialogue with them on their demands.

The agitating and now-derecognized Indian Pilots’ Guild said 11 pilots would be on fast for at least 48 hours after which their place would be taken by fresh set of strikers.

 

The agitating and now-derecognized Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) said 11 pilots would be on fast for at least 48 hours after which their place would be taken by fresh set of strikers. A similar exercise will begin at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan from Monday.

“Our agitation has entered the 48th day and no one has even spoken to us. We want to get back to work and someone needs to tell us how we can do that. Private airlines are going full and benefitting from the stalemate in AI,” said Sumit Dhir, a sacked commander.

A senior ministry official said the airline would have no problem taking the sacked people back. “Only serious thought would have to be given the 10 sacked leaders of the derecognized IPG,” he said. However, the IPG has said that either everyone goes back together or no one does. Close to 450 members of the IPG have been on strike since May 7.

Source: The Times of India


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


Drinking banned on Goa’s beaches

PANAJI: Persons carrying liquor glass bottles and drinking on Goa’s beaches will soon be history as the state tourism department has directed the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) not to allow anybody to step on the beach with alcohol or glass bottles.

Persons carrying liquor glass bottles and drinking on Goa's beaches will soon be history as the state tourism department has directed the Indian Reserve Battalion not to allow anybody to step on the beach with alcohol.

During the fortnightly meeting between tourism department and IRB, the decision to ban liquor and bottles on beaches was conveyed to IRB staff.

IRB has been deployed on the Goa beaches to provide round the clock security.

“Implementation of this has begun,” a senior tourism department official told TOI. The official also said the department received complaints that tourists are being injured after stepping on broken liquor bottles on the beaches.

Locals who picnic on the beaches will also be affected by this order as they will no longer be able to take alcoholic drinks with them.

Through this decision tourism department wants to stop tourists drinking on beaches and the breaking of bottles on beach by drunken tourists.

The official also said that the rise in crimes against women across the country led to this decision. “To prevent eve teasing incidents on Goan beaches we have taken this step,” the official said.

People can now only drink at licensed premises where liquor is served. This includes shacks and hotels. “Domestic tourists coming to Goa, buy liquor in bulk from wholesale stores and enter beaches with snacks which is one of the reasons for littering on beaches. This will also help to keep beaches clean,” the official said.

The tourism official said IRB has been instructed to first politely request people not to take liquor bottles to beaches, and consume alcohol in licensed premises. If the people refuse then IRB officers have been asked to take the bottles away from the tourists.

Source: The Times of India