The national airline has issued a public apology on its inability to clear the baggage backlog on the Bangkok-Paro sector.
It has also assured travellers they are doing all they can to reunite them with their offloaded luggage.
Drukair has also, to the relief of the travellers, assured that here-on one luggage can be identified as a “priority baggage” guaranteed to be delivered on the same flight that the passenger is travelling on.
This is a good response and measure because passengers are accusing Drukair of not being fair. Some have complained that boxes of fish are flown in while their bags are offloaded without their knowledge.
Offloading baggage is not a new problem, especially in Bhutan. But with the increase in traffic, it could get worse. More Bhutanese are travelling abroad. The Bangkok-Paro sector is the busiest. There are traders, families on vacation on top of those leaving for seminars and conferences. It is also the main entry point to the country for tourists.
Tourists coming from Bangkok may be not as high as during the peak season, but it is a busy route. Indian businessmen also fly Bhutanese airlines as they fly to Gaya, Bagdogra and Kolkota.
It is no exaggeration to say that finding the Drukair counter at the Suvarnabhumi international airport in Thailand is not difficult even for first time travellers. All we have to do is look for the longest queue of television sets.
Quite often staff are seen digging deep into hand luggage as passengers try to sneak more than the allowed 10kgs of hand baggage into the aircraft cabin. Those into business, both Bhutanese and Indian are smart and always fine-tune their skills to trick officials. Sometimes hand luggage, small as it may appear are heavier than 10kg.
This poses a risk to passengers and the airline itself. The winter discounts and packages are not helping either. A plane can only carry a certain weight and beyond the carrying capacity, excess luggage will have to be offloaded.
What Drukair can do to avoid criticism is to stick by its rules. Sometimes baggage has to be offloaded. But offloading all luggage and not delivering it for days is insensitive. Such cases should not occur and when they do, irrespective of nationality, compensation should be paid or some kind of gesture made. After all, the excess baggage results partly as a result of the airline’s own promotional packages.
Not informing passengers when their baggage is offloaded cannot be normal policy. Keeping passengers informed would go a long way in avoiding the vitriol that the airline is subjected to.
We’re aware of the challenges the airline faces and measures taken to improve services but it would be very welcome if customer care is further improved when it comes to offloaded baggage.
More Bhutanese are travelling on international airlines and aware of their rights as a passenger. All travellers should be treated equally, especially if they’ve paid the full fare.