12 Aug 2015 14:14 IST

Off to study abroad? Now pack all you can, including that pressure cooker

Airlines offer extra baggage to Indian students flying overseas

September is just around the corner and students who have secured admission in educational institutions abroad are busy preparing to leave. Days are spent booking tickets, packing, and sorting out accommodation-related details.

And amidst all this, a vital question looms large: “How am I going to fit that pressure cooker within the paltry baggage allowance provided by airlines?”

Lucknow-based Akash Varma, who would soon be leaving for the UK to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration, is relieved to hear that airlines have responded to this need. He is planning to buy his tickets on Air India and hopes to use the carrier’s recently launched Maharaja Scholars offer. This will allow Varma to carry one extra piece of luggage weighing up to 23 kg. The offer is valid for flights to destinations such as London and Birmingham in the UK, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome (Fiumicino airport) in Europe and Osaka and Tokyo in Japan. For destinations in the US and Canada, the weight allowance can be split between two pieces of luggage.

Similarly, in addition to the regular baggage allowance, a free check-in baggage of 20 kg is permitted flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Sydney and Melbourne. But for the two Australian cities, the offer is subject to a maximum free baggage allowance of 40 kg.

Varma can now safely carry the cooker – along with the books he will need for the course. Another student, 21-year-old Alagu Sanjana from Chennai, left last month to pursue a Master’s in Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She travelled with Singapore Airlines and was allowed to carry three pieces of check-in luggage (of specific dimensions) weighing 23 kg each. Apart from this, she was able to carry a piece of cabin luggage weighing 7 kg.

Scholarly pursuit

Like Akash and Sanjana, scores of students from India pursue higher education overseas. The US, Canada, the UK, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand top the list of preferred locations. According to University World News, around 97, 000 students from India enrolled in US universities in 2014. And this was a 3.5 per cent drop from the previous year.

Nevertheless, for the carriers this is a customer segment they can’t ignore. Virgin Atlantic offers students flying from New Delhi to the UK and US an additional freebie: Sports equipment goes free! Finnair offers students travelling to Europe an extra baggage allowance of 10 kg. Students need to remember this though - to be eligible for these offers, a valid student identity card or an acceptance letter from the university is mandatory. Besides this, the airlines may have other requisites.

To make life simple, here's a list of airlines and the rules associated with such offers. Happy travels!

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