Passengers will encounter hassles, not fees, the first time their bag extends beyond the new limit, but the move highlights airlines’ continual demands on passengers to maximize space.
Easyjet’s new, slimmed-down hand luggage requirements come into force tomorrow.
The budget carrier will only guarantee to store luggage in its overhead lockers that is 37 per cent smaller than the current limit.
Passengers who travel with bags that are larger than the new size but meet the old requirements, will not have to pay to have them checked in but may have their bags stored in the aircraft’s hold, meaning they would have to wait for them to appear in baggage reclaim.
The airline said it has introduced the new rules as there is not enough room to store all baggage on some of its flights. It is asking passengers to pack a smaller bag in order to avoid the inconvenience of waiting for their luggage in the arrivals hall.
The size now deemed suitable for overhead lockers, 50cm by 40cm by 20cm, shaves roughly 5cm off each dimension required for a bag to qualify as hand luggage – 56cm by 45cm by 25cm.
Many passengers only take hand luggage on shorter flights in order to escape paying charges to put their luggage in hold. Other airlines have followed suit, with British Airways and Air France now offering cheaper, hand-luggage only fares.
Charges for passengers whose hand luggage is not the required size vary but can amount to as much as the price of the flight itself, the consumer watchdog Which? warned in April .
EasyJet said the move was not designed to eke more money out from passengers.
“The bag guarantee is a way for passengers to gain peace of mind that their bag will travel with them onboard the flight,” said a spokersperson for the airline. “The new cabin bag guarantee is transparent and fair to all our customers and the result of in-depth customer research.
“It’s a relatively small change but our statistics show that we only need to see a small reduction in the number of larger bags taken onboard to have a big impact on the number of bags we have to offload at the gate.”
Photo credit: EasyJet's hand luggage rules have continually changed over the past decade. This sign is from 2006. Karl Baron / Flickr