Too Heavy To Fly? Counting The Cost Of The Extra Kilos:

This will annoy many air travellers: The cabin bag you carefully chose for your holiday flight could soon become obsolete. The maximum size currently stipulated by Easyjet and British Airways is 56cm x 45 x 25, including wheels & handles. For Ryanair it’s 55 cm x 40 x 20: They do now allow a second smaller bag, but only the first 90 people to board can be sure there will be sufficient space for their luggage in the overhead lockers. In all three cases, the surcharge for exceeding the limit can be anywhere between £45 – £140.

However, according to journalist James Andrews in the Daily Mirror on 11th June, several of the major airlines have already agreed to implement the reduced measurements of 55cm x 35 x 20 proposed at the recent IATA (International Air Transport Association) conference in Miami. Good news for the bag manufacturers and retailers, less so for the passengers. Even worse, avoiding the restictions altogether by “wearing your luggage instead of carrying it” may soon no longer be possible.

The Daily Mail columnist Vincent Graff, decided to “beat Ryanair at its own game” by purchasing a jacket with 17 pockets into which he placed (among others) his “laptop, four T-shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, sunglasses, mobile phone, camera, torch, books and a first-aid kit”. The total weight was 1.8kg over the 10kg allowed for a cabin bag.

The only limit was “the strength of the jacket’s fabric and the load his shoulders could take”. There was nothing the Ryanair staff could do to stop him. Similarly with anyone using the “AyeGear, No Bulge, Lightweight, 23-pocket Travel Vest” and the “Stuffa Jackets” advertised on amazon.co.uk.

All this could be about to change. On 12th August, the Daily Telegraph’s travel correspondent Soo Kim reported that Uzbekistan Airways will be weighing passengers together with their luggage at the departure gate. It isn’t too clear, she noted, what will happen if the combined total exceeds “the aircraft’s weight limit and guidelines”. Will, for example, larger passengers be charged a fee or even completely excluded from flights?

It’s an experiment which Ryanair, Easyjet and other charter airlines will clearly follow with great interest, especially if they conclude it could solve the problem (for them) of the multi-pocket jackets and so provide them with an additional source of income. It could also be well received by the increasing number of travellers – especially those on long-haul flights – who have complained to their airline about an overweight person next to them “intruding or overflowing” into their own seat.

Soo Kim also pointed out that it was in fact Samoa Air who first set the precedent, in 2013, of charging passengers according to their weight rather than for their seat: The price per kilogram varies according to the length of the route. Furthermore, “in the same year, Samoa Air introduced a special ‘XL class’ and created a wider row on its aircraft for passengers weighing more than 130 kilos”.

As Uzbekistan Airway’s Chief Executive, Chris Langton,told the Daily Mirror’s Richard Wheatstone, “a plane can only carry a certain amount of weight and that weight needs to be paid. There is no other way”. In his opinion, “travellers should be educated on this important issue”.Uzbekistan Airways say that they are simply observing IATA’s requirements for ensuring flight safety. It is probably only a matter of time before many other airlines follow their example.

 

 

Filed under: Travel | Posted on August 28th, 2015 by Colin D Gordon

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