EU Parliament wants to tackle confusing airline hand luggage rules

It’s a growing problem on fully booked short flights in Europe: passengers carrying (too much) hand luggage to be stowed in the airplane’s overhead bins as rules differ among airlines, and some of them charge extras. The European Parliament wants to end these confusing rules and urges to review the EU laws on aviation passenger rights.

In a resolution on uniform standards for airline carry-on luggage, MEPs argue that consistent EU rules on sizing and pricing are needed. The text was adopted with a show hands in Wednesday’s plenary session.

Different rules and hidden fees

“Different airline rules on hand luggage create hidden fees and make it more difficult to compare prices, say MEPs. Also, when passengers use different airlines or need to change their plans, inconsistent rules create confusion.”

For example, Brussels Airlines says you can bring (for free) one piece of carry-on luggage aboard no bigger than max. 55 x 40 x 23 cm and weighing 8 kg maximum. In business class, two such trolleys are allowed.

In addition, you can bring one ‘personal accessory’ with you: a handbag, computer case, or umbrella, for instance, which should be stored under the seat in front of you, except when you’re seated in an exit row. Personal items should not exceed 40 x 30 x 10 cm.

Paying extra for trolleys

On the other hand, Ryanair, operating from the same airports, says you can bring one bag for free, no bigger than 40 x 20 x 25 cm, that must be stowed under the seat. Trolleys are considered ‘cabin baggage’ to be stored in the overhead lockers. These should not exceed 55 x 40 x 20 cm or weigh more than 10 kg and should be paid extra.

More oversized luggage is labeled ‘checked baggage’ to be dropped at the airport check-in before security and charged substantially more. Consequently, more people are trying to squeeze all their luggage into carry-on trolleys or backpacks and stuff it aboard the plane. And most of the time, there is simply no space enough.

Court ruling never implemented

Also, the MEPs say that when passengers use different airlines or need to change their plans, inconsistent rules create confusion. So they demand that when reviewing the current EU Air Services legislation, the Commission should fully implement the relevant ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU.

In 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that cabin baggage, if it follows reasonable requirements for size and weight, is an essential part of air travel. In addition, the court stressed that travelers should not have to pay extra. But the Court’s decision was never implemented.

Seat allocation and priority boarding

New legislation should also address other hidden costs, such as seat allocation fees, argue MEPs. It’s often the case that only at the moment of check-in, 36 to 24 hours before departure, airlines let you choose a preferred seat, but (only) at an extra cost with different tariffs for seats in the front of the airplane, exit seats with more leg space, or additional fees for ‘priority boarding’, which ensures you to be able to stow your carry-on baggage…


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