To help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, travelers are not allowed to use the overhead compartments on some flights to, from and within Italy, including on long-haul routes. This rule is aimed to prevent passengers from crowding in the aisles before takeoff and after landing.

Italy’s National Civil Aviation Authority announced the new regulations, prohibiting the use of overhead bins for any bags ‘for health reasons’. The rules apply to flights that are not socially distanced, the guidelines for which were actually relaxed as part of the announcement issued in mid-June. The aviation authority said social distancing is no longer required on planes that have High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which is the case for most commercial aircraft operating in Europe. Social distancing is still mandatory in the airport and on shuttle buses between the terminal and the plane.

Italy has prohibited the use of overhead bins to help reduce the spread of COVID-19
Italy bans the use of overhead bins on some flights © robert paul van beets/Shutterstock

Any luggage that’s brought onto the flight must be able to fit under the seat. Because the government is implementing these new guidelines, passengers are not required to pay an additional luggage fee for checked baggage as long as they fit within the airline’s normal carry-on dimensions.

"Passengers will only be permitted to bring on board small baggage that can be placed under their seats such as, for example, handbags, backpacks, laptop cases not exceeding 36x45x20 cm", Alitalia, Italy’s flagship carrier, said in a statement on its website. "We invite passengers to deliver their baggage to the airport at the Check-in / Drop-off counter, to be placed in the hold, free of charge."

Other health guidelines in place require passengers to wear masks in the airport, which must be changed every four hours, and to fill out an airline-provided form before each flight that says they do not have COVID-19 or any of its symptoms. 

Italy was one of the hardest-hit countries at the start of Europe’s reckoning with the coronavirus, and about 200 new cases are still being reported each day.

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