If you listen closely, you’ll hear the sound of suitcases being packed as the summer exodus begins. But will travellers be stung for extra fees when they get to the airport and discover they’ve packed too much?
All across the land, people are heading to UK airports to catch flights abroad.
Fast forward a few hours to airport check in and we’ll be hearing more than a few grumbles from those who are forced to pay extra charges because they hadn’t realised their bags are either over size or over weight.
While airlines have to include all non-optional fees in their headline price, over the years, baggage has somehow become ‘optional’ and the costs and measurements allowed can stay firmly in the small print.
Different rules for different airlines
Without any statutory regulation on the minimum size or weight of bags, airlines all have their own policies. We’re getting used to the idea of paying for checking in bags, and the airlines are using their policies for competitive advantage – a cheaper headline price may work out far dearer if you need to take luggage.
Working out what you can take on board with you also needs consideration. Ryanair, for example, only allows one item on board and it must be no bigger than 55x40x20cm and weigh no more than 10kg. If you get a carrier bag with purchases in the departure lounge, that would count as two items and make you liable for a £40 charge.
EasyJet and BA allow 56x45x25cm and, as long as you can lift it above your head in the overhead bin, any weight is allowed (start weight training now!). If you have more than your allocation, however, expect to pay. Other airlines are even more miserly – both Thomson and Thomas Cook only allow 5kg hand luggage.
In theory, if the airlines wanted to, they could do away with any free hand luggage at all, making us stuff our pockets with everything dear to us for the flight.
If this was the case, there would be bound to be uproar – if not from the airline’s insurers who would be forced to pay out more for damaged items in the hold, then at least from the fashion conscious – have you seen how unflattering those travel jackets are?!
How do you beat the system?
Stuffing a travel jacket’s multiple pockets full of your belongings is only way to beat the system. We put it to our Twitter followers this morning and we received some amusing responses.
‘I sneak my extra items into hubby’s case,’ said Heather (@fevsb). Phil (@BCC_SmartMeters) goes one step further, though: ‘I find not taking the wife or children helps with the luggage allowance,’ he jested.
Peter (@JunkkMale) saves on weight thanks to his two sons who pack light. ‘Last holiday they packed an iPod, swim cozzy & one pair of extra undies each. Seemed fine.’
What are your top tips for getting more onto the plane? Do you find the weight allowances generous enough, or have you been caught out by extra fees at the check-in desk?