I was standing at the check in counter for Lufthansa at Frankfurt. The check in agent asked the passenger next to me to present his carry on bag so she could weigh it.
“why? It’s just carry on”
“yes sir. I need to weigh it. Sir it weighs 12kilograms. You must check it. ”
“the last airline let me carry it on”
“You have to remove items or check it in sir”
“this has nothing to do with safety. You just want to make money. Get me your supervisor”
The customer then berated the supervisor. This did nothing to move the check in staff. Nor did swearing at them change things. The suggestion that if the customer continued to abuse them, would mean he would be refused quietened him considerably.
As a carry-on only plane customer, I take very seriously getting my carry on right. I carry a roll on bag which usually weighs between 7 and 8kg and a laptop bag. Over the last 400 flights, I have got away with both bags on almost every flight I have been on including budget airlines. I have seen too many other passengers take out their frustrations about carry-on luggage, on airline staff, other passengers and even their own families. Frustrations that could have been prevented with good planning and awareness.
Admittedly, the fact that airline rules can vary is frustrating. Easyjet has no baggage limit for carry on as long as you can haul it yourself. Spirit charge for every pound you bring on board. Many airlines insisit on a six, seven or eight kilogram limit (13, 15, 17 pounds) limit per bag. Some airlines will turn a blind eye one day, to people exceeding their carry on limits and enforce them the next day. I have seen Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Air France, Ryanair, Tiger and British weigh carry on at the Boarding gates on some occasions and do nothing the next.
Some people insist the rules are for safety. Heavy bags can be dangerous if they fall from an overhead bin and each bin is designed to operate properly within a specific weight limit. Others suggest it is for fairness. Others so that airlines can make more money from excess checked luggage. Whatever the reason, the airlines have rules. And purchase of a ticket indicates agreement with the rules.
Most airlines limit the amount of luggage brought aboard (although some I wonder)
- Check with your airline before packing so you know its check in and carry-on rules. Here is a guide for airlines across the USA or flying to and from the country
- The maximum size carry-on bag for most airlines is 45 linear inches (115cm). This is the total of the height, width, and depth of the bag. Some airlines make it 41″ (105cm). Anything larger should be checked
- If flying more than one airline, be prepared for different sizes and weights
- Clarify the number of items you may carry and the maximum size of those items with your airline. in Coach/Economy it is usually one item plus a personal item eg laptop but some carriers only allow a single item -especially budget carriers
- Some Airlines will weigh your hand luggage when you check in. If it is too heavy for the carrier, you will pay a fee or have to check it in or in some, cases do both. Low Cost carriers like Ryanair, Spirit, Tiger and Air Asia are veyr tough on this and will not be argued with
- Likewise, some airports in Europe and Australia will do the same as you pass through the Security areas and weigh your bags
- Learn your fees for checked and carry on baggage. Adding $10, $20 or even $50 per bag per passenger per flight can add hundreds of dollars to a trip
- Plan to travel with less- consider do you need this item before you plan to take it?
- Never check essentials including medicines, prescriptions, personal hygiene items, passports and other documents, jewelry, cameras and valuables.
- Board early. The early bird gets the carry on space.
- In some situations, your airline may require you to check most or all your bags, so be ready to do so.
- Look like you can carry your luggage as you stroll on. If you look like you are struggling to carry it, then you may be pulled up
- Be safety conscious when stowing your carry-ons
- Carry-on items can fall from overhead bins and injure you or others during flight or after landing
- If you cannot lift your bag above your head, don’t expect others to place it overhead for you. Slide it under the seat or don’t carry it.
- Be aware that airlines of many countries do not permit you to put items under the seat in front of you when seated in the Emergency Exit.
- If an evacuation occurs, you will need to leave your carry-one behind so you don’t impede your evacuation or those of other passengers.
- Plan for your special medical needs eg If you’re diabetic, pack any medical supplies and/or emergency snacks, and a letter from your doctor.
- Don’t check in medicines.
- If you travel with spectacles, have a sturdy case for each pair to protect them.
- Think through how your overhead bin can be organised before throwing your stuff in. A well organised bin can take a lot more than a badly organised one.