The woes of carry-on

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The woes of carry-on

January 01, 2019 - 23:20
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The inconsistency of carry-on baggage allowances.

Recent moves by Virgin Australia and Qantas to limit carry-on baggage to 7kg on domestic flights illustrates an on-going and concerning trend; the inconsistency of carry-on baggage allowances. Being a frequent traveller, this is a scenario I know all too well….

Airline check-in is easily the most stressful part of any trip. As a photographer with expensive photo gear, packing it in checked luggage is simply unacceptable. Arriving with damaged gear while on assignment (or worse yet, stolen gear) is simply not any option. All cameras and lenses must go as a carry-on and do so in a regulation-size bag that easily fits in the overhead compartment.

Yet, the rules seem to change like the wind direction, being not only at the whim of the airline but also the airline staff. As Forest Gump famously said. “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Qantas defended their recent move, claiming it will make the boarding process “fair” for all travelers, as many attempt to game overload carry-on bags to avoid checking luggage. They claim injuries to cabin crews caused by closing overhead compartments crammed with heavy baggage.

Many dismiss these arguments, claiming them to be nothing more than a cash grab. It is true that many overstuff cabin baggage to avoid checked luggage fees. With additional fees mounting daily, one can hardly blame them. In my case, the bag weighs more than 7 kg, but it does fit, and I do all the lifting.

However, it is the inconsistency of the rules which is the most frustrating aspect. Some airlines only weigh carry-on luggage if a passenger checks in at the airport rather than online and each airline has wildly different allowance rules. According to British Airways’ website, passengers are permitted one piece of hand luggage and one small item (handbag, laptop) on board. Hand luggage must not exceed 56cm x 45cm x 25cm and the small item must be no bigger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm. Both items can weight up to 23kg each.

In contrast, Norwegian’s 10kg allowance encompasses a personal item, coat, and any tax-free purchases. This doesn’t even consider the weight of the bag itself. Some roller bags can tip the scales at over 6kg before they are even packed. And then there is the issue of flying with multiple carriers on one trip, creating multiple hassles in the process.

The morale of the story? Always check and check EVERY time, as the same airline may changed policy since your last flight. This is but another example of airlines seemingly going out of their way to erode consumer confidence. In this day and age, one would think they would go out their way to entice rather than discourage.