juliamhammond

The increasingly thorny issue of cabin baggage

Airline Jet2 are in the news this weekend, with an article in the Daily Mail highlighting their new policy of charging for guaranteed cabin baggage.  You can read the article here:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4719308/Now-airlines-charge-bring-HAND-LUGGAGE.html

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I was a little suspicious, given the propensity of the Daily Mail to be economical with the truth, so I did some fact checking.  Buried within the Jet2 website, and revealed as far as I could see only after you have reserved flights and are well into the booking process, is the opportunity to pay extra to keep your bag with you:

Subject to availability, you can pre-book “guaranteed cabin baggage” for an extra charge, and if you have purchased this service, you will not be asked to put your hand baggage in the hold (unless it exceeds the weight and size requirements detailed above or operational requirements apply).  If we require your guaranteed cabin baggage to go into the hold for operational requirements, you can contact customer services to arrange a refund for any charges which you have paid for this service.

I tried a sample booking of a flight from Stansted to Dubrovnik.  The cost of ensuring your cabin baggage made it into the cabin with you (subject to those operational requirements not being necessary, of course) was £3 per person per leg, a little more than the £2.59 quoted in the Mail’s article.

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Would you pay it?

I’m not sure I would.  But then I’ve rarely taken a suitcase on board and instead prefer to check it or, better still, leave it behind.  I find it irritating to wait while wheelie after wheelie bangs its way down the aisle, though with airlines charging to put such luggage in the hold, I can hardly blame those doing so.  But this not only slows boarding, it often means that there’s too much luggage to fit.  I’ve taken many a Ryanair flight – the airline guarantees only the first 90 carry on bags will make it on board – and watched it all kick off as people are asked (or not) to hand over their bags.  My fairly small day pack has always made it on board, I presume because it can fit between my feet and wouldn’t have to be placed in the overhead bins.

Wizz Air, it would seem, have had to backtrack on their plans to charge for guaranteed larger sized cabin baggage.  You can take on a bag of up to 42x32x25cm free of charge, but to carry on an item up to the maximum dimensions (55x40x23cm) there’s a price to pay.  Until 29th October 2017, this can be anything from 10 to 20 euros according to the small print on their website (35 euros if you take care of business at the airport), but this add-on disappears after that date, supposedly incorporated into the price of your seat.  Have Wizz caved under the pressure of customer complaints, I wonder?

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At this point, you’re likely to be muttering things about budget airlines, but they’re not the only offenders.  Increasingly, scheduled, so-called full service airlines are supplementing their fares with extra fees and charges.  And when it comes to revenue “earned” by such add-ons, you might be surprised to learn who the worst offenders are:

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Some airlines are worryingly reliant on additional revenue as a share of their total earnings.  You can read the full report here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/airlines-that-rely-most-on-extra-charges/

So, even on a scheduled airline, if I want to select my seat in advance (and even as a solo traveller I might, or risk being stuck in that middle seat that no one wants) I’m likely to have to pay for the privilege.  At the moment at least, I’m not likely to have to hand over my carry on luggage but who knows how long that might last?

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this.  As travellers, if we’re determined to do so on as low a budget as possible, we’re going to have to think hard about what we really need to take with us.  I shared my packing tips here:
https://juliamhammond.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/packing-tips-from-someone-who-learnt-the-hard-way-2/

Taking large suitcases will perhaps become a luxury rather than the norm.  It will certainly be interesting to see if Jet2’s new policy lasts the distance, and if it does, whether other airlines will follow suit.

What are your views?  Would you pay to ensure your bag comes on board with you or do you think it’s one rip-off too many?  I’d love to hear what you think.

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5 responses

  1. Although they deny it Ryanair have clearly changed their randomly allocated seat policy. I have never paid to buy a seat and have always been allocated a seat next to travelling companions but last week on a trip to Ireland we were separated just as far as possible as it is to be separated on a flight. Absolute Banditry!

    Actually, I don’t mind them putting my hand luggage in the hold if it is for free!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 22, 2017 at 5:19 pm

  2. So would you a) travel with Ryanair again and b) pay for a seat allocation next time if so? I’m still a big Ryanair fan – who else would fly me to the Christmas markets for under a fiver return? I agree, no issue with hold baggage for free so long as I haven’t a tight connection (not relevant with a budget) or a very late return flight when I just want to be home and in bed the minute I land!

    Like

    July 22, 2017 at 5:52 pm

  3. Pingback: Everything you need to know about flying | Julia's Travels

  4. Living in Japan, I don’t have many options for LCCs – although we have a few options now, but I haven’t made use of any of them yet. I did manage to fly Air Asia’s version of business class for the price of an economy ticket, and that was very worthwhile! As for paying for baggage – either checked or cabin – I guess I would always pay it. Because of my photography, it’s impossible for me to fly with just a carry-on, since my carry-on is mostly all of my photo gear. There’s no way I would put that in the hold, and I would definitely pay to keep it in the cabin with me (if it came to that). Luckily, it’s not something I think I’ll have to deal with anytime soon. It’s only recently that Japanese airlines even had restrictions on the number of bags you could fly with (I don’t want to say it was unlimited, but you could fly with a lot) – now they’ve gone to the standard 2 bags for int’l (but still free) – the sort of extra fees that people have to pay in other countries is not really an issue here, except for the LCCs. As for seats, I always pay for what I want – I can’t handle the back of the plane (motion sickness), I don’t want to be near the toilets, and I prefer a window seat. And, as you’ve mentioned, being a solo traveller means I may end up getting stuck in the middle seat, which would be a nightmare for me, especially since 90% of all my flights are long-haul flights (even within Asia).

    Anyway, even when I head to Europe, once I’m there I tend to stick to trains for city-to-city travel, since getting to and from airports (plus airline fees, etc.) are just not worth the hassle. However, if I lived there and had the opportunity to do city-breaks like you do (lucky!!) I would probably do as you do and use the budget airlines (and reconsider my stance on paying for some of the services).

    Liked by 1 person

    July 26, 2017 at 2:29 am

  5. That’s really interesting to get a perspective from somewhere outside Europe and the US. I think we’ve been so spoilt for choice we’re getting a bit picky now!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 26, 2017 at 5:55 am

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