Petition to Abolish Special Handling Charge
Anuradha Pal, considered to be the first female professional tabla player, is running a campaign on Change.org to stop airlines from charging for musical instruments, irrespective of weight and size limits. The petition asks for the abolishment of the “Special Handling Charge” on music and sports equipment on the account of it being highly discriminatory. It also asks for a higher baggage allowance, suggesting an increase to 30kgs, as a show of support from the government in lieu of the cultural representation musicians and sportsperson provide the country. The petition urges the government to mandate airlines to take special care of equipment following reports and pictures of damaged musical instruments and sports equipment.
This controversy was unearthed to the public eye when a video posted by Raghu Dixit was circulated. The video shows Raghu Dixit’s bassist trying to reason these absurd costs with Spice Jet. He was (as all musicians are) asked to pay Rs. 1000 per instrument irrespective of the dimensions or weight. His disbelief is echoed by fellow musicians.
Whilst many complain that this is an irrational cost levied arbitrarily, there are complains that even with the “Special Handling Charges” the flights don’t guarantee safety of the instruments from damage. There were reports that Air India had damaged Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s sarod showing complete disregard towards instrument.
This is part of this new wave of low priced airlines, where the ticket costs are low, but passengers are charged exorbitant amounts for pretty much everything. This culture has been started by Air Asia’s entry in the low priced carriers. Suffice to say this is hitting the wrong note with musicians who end up paying more for their instruments than the flight itself.
To join the cause and sign the petition, log on to change.org.