Low-cost airline SpiceJet has said it's investigating allegations of pilferage and broken baggage locks of passengers on its March 11 flight SG178 from Dubai to Delhi.
The move comes after a video started making the rounds of social media platforms, showing passengers standing by the luggage carousel at Delhi airport to collect their checked-in baggage, and complaining of contents of their bags missing.
Many of them alleged that their belongings have been stolen.
In a response to Moneycontrol's query, a SpiceJet spokesperson said: “This is with regards to a video on social media regarding alleged pilferage and broken baggage locks on SpiceJet flight SG178 from Dubai to Delhi on March 11. While SpiceJet takes this matter very seriously and is investigating it thoroughly, we want to clarify that not even a single passenger travelling on the said flight has filed a complaint of theft. SpiceJet reserves the right to take appropriate legal action against anyone trying to deliberately tarnish its image and mislead the public through fake videos/news on social media or on other platforms.”
Industry observers have often advised against keeping valuables in check-in baggage. Customers should instead use the hand baggage for keeping valuables like jewellery, passport and laptops.
While that doesn't mean these incidents shouldn't be investigated, the chances of getting back the stolen items are slim. "It is mainly because one can't monitor when luggage is loaded or dropped," said a senior industry executive.
Recently, jewellery worth about Rs 6 lakh was stolen from the check-in baggage of a customer flying to Darbhanga. An FIR had been filed. In another incident, a passenger flying from Dubai to Mangaluru found valuable items missing from her bag. Both were SpiceJet flights. On the Mangaluru incident, the airline's spokesperson said:
"On 21st February, 2021, the check-in baggage of the said passenger travelling from Dubai to Mangalore on SpiceJet flight SG 146 was offloaded due to payload restrictions. The baggage was delivered by SpiceJet staff on 24th February, 2021 at the passenger’s address.
"A thorough investigation was conducted by the airline at both Dubai and Mangalore stations on the allegation made by the passenger on valuables missing from her bag. No evidence was found to suggest any tampering or pilferage at either of the two stations.
"SpiceJet, in its travel itinerary (screenshot attached) to all its passengers, very clearly and strongly recommends that all valuables (e.g. camera, jewellery, cash, electronics, perishables items, etc.) and medication be carried in cabin baggage only and the airline assumes no responsibility for any pilferage/damage to valuables in case they are carried in check-in baggage and the passenger shall be doing so at their sole risk and consequences."
Travel insurance policies can be a safeguard with many insurers also giving a cover for baggage theft. Baggage related complaints made up for a little over 12.6 percent of the total objections raised by passengers in January, data from industry regulator DGCA shows.