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Air India to provide special baggage allowance for passengers carrying Zamzam.

Summary: Baggage allowance on all commercial flights operating out of Saudia Arabia is uniformly 40kgs.

(Alamy Image)

India's flag carrier has decided to provide an additional baggage allowance of five kilograms to the passengers returning from Saudi Arabia after Haj exclusively for Zamzam (holy water) cans, airline officials announced on Tuesday, July 9. This decision came following Air India's decision to reverted the 'ban' Zamzam holy water on its narrow-body aircraft. Air India took to social networking website Twitter to announce the retraction on Tuesday (July 9) morning.

In a statement on Tuesday, the company said that the baggage allowance on all commercial flights operating out of Saudi Arabia is uniformly 40 kilograms and the additional allowance will remain exclusive to the customers carrying the holy water.

Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said in an official statement, "Baggage allowance on all commercial flights operating out of Saudia Arabia (UAE) is uniformly 40kgs. Special five kg allowance is given to those passengers who may carry Zam Zam (holy water). This special allowance cannot be converted into baggage allowance as it is exclusively for Zamzam only."

"Earlier AI operated B747 and 777 aircraft from Jeddah. For 747 passengers, baggage allowance was 45 kg (inclusive of Zamzam) i.e. passengers could carry 45 kg baggage even without Zamzam. While for passengers who booked on B777, aircraft baggage allowance was only 40kg (including Zamzam)," he said. This year, the company is operating its B747 aircraft exclusively for Haj Charters and its commercial flight to and from Saudia is being operated by A320 Neo, the company said. "Therefore, due to payload restrictions, AI management has decided to restrict the baggage allowance to 40 kg only. A special allowance of 5Kg is for Zam Zam," said Kumar.

Earlier today, the carrier had apologised for the inconvenience caused to the customers after it banned the carrying of Zamzam cans on its narrow-bodied aircraft. AI tweeted Tuesday morning, "With reference to instructions regarding non-carriage of Zamzam cans, on AI966 and AI964, we wish to clarify that passengers are allowed to carry Zamzam cans within their permissible baggage allowance. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused." The original advisory, which only applied to specific flights between Jeddah and Hyderabad, Mumbai and Cochin, was issued over space and in-flight passenger safety concerns.

Passengers travelling on all Air India flights can now travel with Zamzam water providing it fits within permissible baggage allowances. This can vary depending on fare type booked. Several Indian believers, especially from Kerala and Hyderabad expressed happiness at AI's decision to revert the 'ban'. Arthik Ahmed, a Dubai-resident said, "It's good that the airline has retracted the decision. It would hurt the sentiments of millions of pilgrims." Narendra K Gupta professor of human resources management said Air India did not think things through before announcing the ban of Zamzam water on narrowbody flights. "The sanctity of carrying the Zamzam should've been enquired into by the concerned authorities."

Another Indian expatriate Jameel PV said, "I am very happy that the airline has decided to retract its decision. Zamzam water holds immense significance to Muslims across the globe. Millions of Indians also travel all the way to Jeddah for a long, spiritual journey. Why should pilgrims be denied the holy water."

The website of the national carrier states that as per a notice issued by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, passengers will not be allowed to carry in their hand baggage liquids exceeding 100 ml, except medicines, inhalers accompanied by prescriptions and baby food.

"These items (in hand baggage) will be carried in one clear transparent re-sealable, one-litre size plastic bag and will be subjected to the prescribed screening and security checks," the website says. There is no restriction on how much liquid can be carried in check-in baggage.

Haj is considered the world's largest human gathering, recording almost 2.4 million pilgrims in 2018. Quenching the thirst of countless number of people across the globe, the Zamzam well pumps 11- 19 liters of water in a second. Located 20 meters away for the Kabba, the story of the well dates back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him). The well is known to have turned Makkah into the most visited city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 9, 2019
Words:732
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