Passengers sceptical of new "optimum" bag size

Air passengers were reassured this week that the recent announcement with guidelines for “optimum sized carry-on bags” would not lead to hidden charges.

Luggage collection at London's Heathrow airport.

Luggage collection at London's Heathrow airport. Image by Mark Hillary / CC BY 2.0

The new drive by a branch of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – Cabin OK – aims to improve the ease with which travellers can carry on their bags and is not a money-making initiative for airlines.

The London Independent reports that passengers with the correct sized 55 cms x 35 cms dimensions would be given an ‘IATA Cabin OK’ tag so that airport staff can allow them into the cabin without the risk of being diverted into the cargo hold. The new guidelines are significantly smaller than those previous operating with such carriers as Ryanair (55x40 x20 cms), Virgin (56x36x23 cms) and both easyJet and British Airways who stipulate dimensions of 56x45x25 cms.

Passengers reacted to last week’s announcement with cynicism and concern that this was a way to charge them more money for bringing extra bags on board but IATA have moved swiftly to dispel these fears. The association said in a clarifying statement that the new sizes were not a maximum but an optimum size – meaning that carriers would be able to set their own larger sized boundaries for carry-on luggage.

Mr Thomas Windmuller, of I.A.T.A, assured air passengers that there was no need to worry, saying the rule of thumb is if their luggage was acceptable before, it would be still ok for travel.

Despite the controversy over the new sizes, nine airlines have signed up to the scheme including Lufthansa, Emirates and Qatar. EasyJet say they may also partake because they feel an overall same-size across all carriers would help flyers in the long run.

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