Please do take luggage from strangers

16 Dec 2005 | 367 words | airtravel traffic india security

One of the most remarkable things about India is the way traffic flows. traffic adjusts itself to conditions around it in a very organic way and in general there are very little rules that are actually followed (or enforced).

The rule that vehicles (and this includes busses, trucks, rickshaws, motorcycles, cycles, push-carts, donkey-carts, and various species of animals) drive on the left side of the road only applies in a relative fashion: one drives left of the right most vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. This enables traffic to find an equilibrium (although it looks far from that) that distributes the total available width of the road according to the traffic volume in both directions (except when there are dividers in the middle of the road like in most of New Delhi). The whole thing works rather smoothly, is a pleasure to observe and a joy to participate in…

Now today i am about to take my first low-budget flight in India (from Delhi to Bombay) and while checking in i noticed the same sort of collective balancing taking place. Low-cost airlines have opened up the possibility of air travel for less prosperous people and you see a lot of families traveling on these airlines. On my flight about one quarter of the passengers seem to be families and the rest individuals traveling for business.

Now if traveling with family Indians must take along excessive amounts of luggage and of course this does not vibe at all with the 15 kg baggage allowment of Air Deccan. As a result the check-in queues at the airport becomes one big distribution mechanism where travelers with over-baggage pair up with travelers that only travel with carry-on baggage in order to check-in their baggage in their name. This creates quite an amount of chaos at check-in as people constantly jump the queue in order to assemble their baggage sharing party, but in the end it seems to work out really well and almost nobody pays for overweight. This process of applied solidarity is even more remarkable if one remembers the constant reminders not to accept luggage from strangers that one is subject to at airports in the rest of the world.