It seems like every airline has a different allowance for hand luggage, leading to lots of confusion and surprises at the departure gate. Do you think airline hand luggage allowances are clear enough?
I’m perpetually confused when I arrive at the departure gate for a flight. Not because I don’t know where I’m going, but because I don’t know what’s going to happen to my hand luggage.
Quite often, I’m standing with my boarding pass in hand, holding one piece of hand luggage, a coat or jacket and some presents or drinks I’ve bought at the airport.
And I never know whether all three items will be happily allowed on to the plane, or if I’ll be told it’s too much and I’ll have to pay a fine.
I once found myself turned away because I had a suit carrier strapped to my hand luggage, meaning I officially had two bags. So I crumpled up the suit and forced it into the hand luggage and was happily allowed on the plane.
Hand luggage is hard to handle
I find this the safest policy when rules on hand luggage sizes, weights and allowances vary so much between airlines.
For instance, EasyJet allows one bag (56x45x25cm) with no weight limit, and a ‘standard’ bag of airport shopping. Flybe has three options depending on the airport and class of ticket.
Monarch gives you two options. On scheduled fights you can take one 56x40x25cm bag up to 10kg, plus a small duty-free bag. Or you can choose to have two bags, with a combined size and weight no bigger than the one bag option, plus a small duty-free bag. However, Monarch charter flights have a 5kg weight limit.
Ryanair has a strict limit of one bag no heavier than 10kg, measuring 55x40x20cm. Any shop purchases must fit inside.
And this is before you even get into the complexity of hold luggage rules. For instance, BA yesterday introduced a new ‘hand-luggage only’ fare on some short-haul Gatwick routes, which it says gives you a one way ‘discount’ of up to £15 if you have no checked in baggage. If you pick this option, but then add a piece of hold baggage later, it’ll cost you £20 each way.
One hand luggage allowance to rule them all
For me, travelling would be much easier if there was one rule for all airlines, so I always knew what I could take on-board. And that’s exactly what Euro-MPs are proposing, on the basis that passengers are consistently falling foul of the rules and paying fines because they are unaware handbags or duty free shopping are not allowed.
The European Commission appears to be lukewarm on the proposal, suggesting instead that better information from airlines may be the way to end the confusion.
Personally I think a European-wide minimum allowance would give consumers clarity and still allow competition between airlines as they could have different maximum limits.
What do you think is the answer? And what do you make of airline’s hand luggage allowances and the information they provide about them?