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Afghan crisis forces Air India to dispose of passenger luggage at Delhi airport

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Air India leaves around 50 pieces of luggage at Delhi airport as it flies to the United States, reducing what it carries after the closure of Afghanistan’s airspace increased flight time for at least 30 minutes.

Air India flies the Boeing 777 and 787 in New York, Newark, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. While the flight from San Francisco follows eastern routes, the other four typically cross Afghanistan to Central Asia and Russia. After the closure of Afghan airspace on August 16, Air India flights to Europe and the United States travel south through Pakistan and Iran to Central Asia.

Air India is lifting an additional 5 to 8 tonnes of fuel due to a rerouting. This has led to a payload restriction, contributing to the reason why the airline leaves passengers behind luggage and cargo in Delhi. The problem is acute on the route to Chicago, which has a longer flight time than New York and Newark.

Along with the rerouting, Air India’s generous baggage policy became a challenge for the airline. It allows two 23 kg bags for economy class passengers and students are entitled to a third bag free of charge.

Passengers have taken to Twitter and other social media platforms to complain about their luggage. Students are confused as they carry household items for their new residences abroad. Some passengers complained about the lack of response from Air India’s customer service number.

An Air India spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question. A source said bags left behind are being sent on the next available flight, including those from United Airlines.

The airline is also conducting a safety risk assessment for a shorter northern route via Pakistan and Tajikistan. This would reduce the increase in flight time and reduce fuel consumption.

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