Madness: Malaysia refuses checked baggage

Imagine arriving at the airport for your European vacation or business trip to find that you airline is NOT accepting checked luggage.

Malaysia Airlines passengers on all flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to London, Paris and Amsterdam were told  from Tuesday January 5th that Economy Class passengers could only take luggage weighing seven kilograms (about 15 pounds) onboard, while Business and First class passengers could board with carry-on bags that weighed 14 kilograms (about 31 pounds).

I understand passengers could book their luggage on but it would arrive separately!

The outcry was significant as you can imagine.

Four hours later, the luggage ban was lifted on London flights, but stayed for Amsterdam and Paris. It then lifted them for all flights.

I initially assumed that the luggage ban was for security reasons but the airline advised it was because of unseasonable “strong headwinds“.

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Malaysia uses 777-200ERs for the 5,533 nautical mile trip from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam  and 5,644 nautical mile journey to Paris. This plane only has a range of 7,065 nautical miles. With changes to its routings following the loss of its plane over the Ukraine,  the distance between Kuala Lumpur and Amsterdam is much higher than the direct route. This gives the airline little wriggle room for delays, cancellations or problems.  The current headwinds mean Malaysia must reduce plane weight otherwise their 777s will be making unscheduled stops because they have run out of fuel.

The London flights have been exempted from the ban because they are served by the airline’s 8,500 nautical mile range Airbus A380s.

This was an issue I think Malaysia mishandled. For an airline trying to re build brand loyalty after its recent disasters. I would have thought rather than banning all customers from taking baggage, the airline could have:

  1. offered a financial reward to passengers not taking baggage and
  2. carried less freight and
  3. sought some volunteers to be bumped to lighten the total baggage load

I understand that options two and three impact revenue hence Malaysia Airlines probable reluctance to consider them as alternatives.  Taking actions that negatively impact on your reputation will not help rebuild the embattled carrier.

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Malaysia Airlines will cease operating to Amsterdam and Paris from January 26 2016.





  1. Checked “baggage will only arrive later?” What does that mean, other than, obviously, baggage will fly on another plane? They aren’t going to fly a plane just for the baggage.

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