Almost every Airlines allow carrying of LED TVs without any issues. But, they take a declaration at the time of check-in that they are not responsible for any damage to it. Not to worry, they usually handle it very carefully. Only make sure to ask them for a “Fragile Item” sticker at the time of check-in and stick them onto the TV carton. Me and my friends have bought about 4 TVs from Europe/USA to India ranging from 37″ to 46″ without any issues.
For the benefit of all, let me try to put it all in steps:
1. All airlines have a limit on the size of the TV (or actually the package) that you can carry. The best way to find this out is to check the Airlines website under Baggage Allowance. It isn’t usually listed specifically as a TV. You just need to check under the normal baggage for the dimensions limitations.
Note: Each Airline has different allowances and they are different for the different classes of travel.
Air India: The sum of Length + Breadth + Height should not be more than 62 inches (158 cm).
Again these allowances are different for different classes of travel. So, I would suggest that you check on the websites of the respective Airlines or just call up Customer Service. You don’t need to specify anything about carrying a TV as they usually get confused. Remember, a TV is just treated as any other Baggage by every Airline.
Tip: Don’t take the dimensions of your TV into account! You need to take the dimensions of the TV Carton into account. If you have not yet purchased the TV and need to plan on what size to take, the best way to find the dimensions is to check Amazon for that specific model. Amazon usually lists the dimensions of the carton under Shipping Package Size.
I am not sure about other TV models, but Samsung website also lists the size of the Shipping carton under each model specifications.
Another Tip: Don’t consider taking any TV above 46″. Most Airlines have restrictions on that and you would also experience hell with the Customs in India and the hassle is not worth it. To be on the safe side, anything below a 42″ TV would be convenient with the Airlines and the Customs.
2. Once you have everything ready, make sure your TV is packed only in its original carton. Manufacturers usually ship the TVs over distant places and the cartons are designed to withstand any kind of stress on it and will protect your TV the best. Of course, the carton should be with it’s original Thermocol packing inside. 😉
3. Take a printout of your Destination Address and stick it on at least two sides of the Carton. Sometimes, Airlines delay the baggage and they tend to deliver it to your home and an Address on it would be helpful, though they do usually take your address if your Baggage is delayed. 😉
4. Take a couple of printouts of “FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE” and keep them with you along with a pair of scissors and a cello tape. Every Airlines gives you “Fragile” stickers at the check-in, but you need to specifically ask for them.
Emirates and Lufthansa give you cool looking Fragile stickers ( 6 of them). Air India just gives you one “FRAGILE” tag that they tie themselves to the package. In this case, you can use your printouts to stick on the package. Make sure that you stick these on all 6 sides of the box.
5. Remember: A TV is just another piece of baggage as far as the Airlines are concerned and all Baggage Allowance rules are applied to it. If the weight of the TV and your remaining luggage falls within the allowance, the Airlines do not charge anything. But, if the combined weight of your TV and the remaining luggage exceeds your Baggage Allowance, the extra weight is calculated and charged accordingly. The rates of excess baggage is usually found on the websites of the respective Airlines under Excess Baggage Allowance.
Airlines also have a limit on the weight of each baggage that you can carry. For Eg: Air India does not allow any single baggage above 30 Kg even if you are ready to pay for it. So, even if your Airlines gives you a Baggage Allowance of 46 Kgs, each single item of baggage should not exceed 30Kgs each.
6. Keep a copy of your original Invoice for the TV with you in hand. The Customs in India would ask for it. They usually assign their own pre-determined rate for the TV for calculating the Duty. But, if they ask for the Invoice and you don’t have it, expect them to fleece you off a little more money.
Tip: Don’t buy a Plasma TV at any cost to take back to India. A Plasma TV gets damaged easily especially if it is stored horizontally. It has to be placed/stacked vertically. I have checked that Airlines usually stack the TVs vertically only, but why take the unnecessary risk? And once you reach India, never, never (strictly never!) stack the TV on the top of the car (on the roof rack) for taking it home from the Airport. Place it upright (vertically) inside the car. These TVs are not supposed to be stored in an horizontal position.
And last but not the least, once you reach home, take a little time to read the manual for the Power Supply ratings before you connect the TV and if required get the necessary Power Convertors/ Stabilizers first. No point in frying it up after going to such efforts in getting it to India.
1. Philips 37″ LED; (by a friend)
Nothing charged extra at the Point of Departure. Baggage weight was within the limits allowed.
At Delhi Airport: Customs did not charge anything as the TV was being carried by friend’s aged parents. 😉 and since it was a 37″ one. They just waved us past the gate.
2. Samsung 40″ 3D LED; (by a friend)
Nothing charged at the point of Departure. Baggage weight was within the limits allowed.
At Chennai Airport: Customs charged 6500/- but agreed to a payment of 3000 unofficially (read ‘bribe’) and let my friend take it out.
3. Samsung 40″ LED (by a friend)
Airways did not charge anything, but the Airport personnel charged some handling charges of $100 or $150 (I am not sure of the amount here).
At Chennai Airport: Customs was paid an amount of 2500/- unofficially.
4. Samsung 46″ 3D LED (by me)
Airways: Air India
Nothing was charged at the point of Departure. Baggage weight was within the limits allowed.
At Delhi Airport: Customs flocked around my TV like bees around honey all the while excitingly talking that it was a 46″ TV. Then I was told that I would be charged INR 22000 as Customs Duty. After an hour of persuading them, they asked me to pay INR 10000 unofficially (without any invoice) and finally settled down to INR 9000.
IMPORTANT TIP: Keep at least INR 7500/- with you in cash to pay the Customs Duty in India. They do not accept Cards or foreign currency. And you are not allowed to carry Indian currency more than 7500/-. If you have a Debit card, it would help as there are ATMs in the Airport where you can withdraw Indian currency.
People traveling from Europe to India have some added benefits of claiming back the Taxes on the TV and I will detail the process to be followed for that in my next post if anyone is interested.