The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to do away with the hand baggage tags on a pilot basis at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports.
As part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) followed at all the airports in India, every passenger boarding a flight is obligated to get a tag for the cabin baggage, which is then stamped at the security check and checked by the security personnel at the boarding gates to ensure that no unchecked baggage enters the aircraft.
Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said, “We recently issued orders to do away with the stamping of hand baggage tags at the time of security screening. The practice will be introduced on a pilot basis at five airports and if successful, may be expanded to other airports across the country. This will save passengers’ time while boarding and will not be a security hassle in any manner.”
This practice of all cabin baggage carrying a rubber-stamped tag by the security personnel is not followed in the United States and European countries. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which looks after security at airports, is likely to implement the move within a week, added Choubey.
As this move would speed up the boarding process, the decision is welcomed by representatives of air passengers. D Sudhakara Reddy, National President of Air Passengers’ Association of India said, “There are many first-time fliers who are unaware of the need for baggage tags. They stand in the security queue only to be told much later, either by a fellow passenger or security personnel, that tags are required. Such passengers go all the way back to the airline counter to collect the tag, which leads to delays.”
E-boarding cards, the next step?
E-boarding cards could be the next step if this process of no more baggage tag is successful. “E-boarding cards have been allowed on a pilot project basis at Hyderabad. We are assessing how that project has fared,” Choubey said.
However, a section of the aviation industry feels that with the improvement in security at airports, there is no way a bag can enter the secure zone without being checked. Removing tags will be in-line with the international practice followed at airports abroad. Analysts, however, feel that the government should not abolish the cabin baggage tag but replace it with a system that is less cumbersome.
This is happening in a rapidly growing market where process fluidity and innovations are welcomed. According to World Air Transport Statistics, India recorded a growth in domestic air passengers of 18.8 pc in 2015, compared to the previous year.