Carry-on luggage crackdown might stop overhead locker hogs, but there could be more ‘chaos’ at the gate
If you’ve ever had your carry-on luggage weighed before boarding a flight, you’ll know what an arduous process it can be.
One by one, passengers are asked to place their bags on a set of scales and await their fate.
Come in under the limit, and you’re good to go. But if you’ve stuffed a few extra kilos into your backpack, you’ll be asked to pay up for the extra baggage or stand to the side and repack.
“It is a seriously painful process, especially if you are working and fly two or more flights a day,” Jade R told us when we asked our audience on Facebook Messenger what they thought of the widening carry-on crackdown.
But could the tougher scrutiny lead to calmer and safer flights? Here are the pros and cons travellers say they’re weighing up.
Pro: There’ll be less jostling for room in the overhead lockers
Tim M told us too many times he’d been left without room in the overhead compartments for his luggage, “as some rude people take up far too much space with oversized and heavy bags”.
Here’s what some others said:
“It’s about time! As a traveller who rarely carries more than a single bag weighing 5 kilograms, I’ve been ‘requested’ multiple times to place my bag between my legs as there is not enough room in the overhead compartments. Invariably this is because inconsiderate people have brought one or more oversized, overweight bags and are unable or unwilling to fit them between their legs.” — James M
“I think it’s good. I see too many people bringing obviously overweight luggage into the plane because they’re too lazy to wait for the carousel.” — Sue F
“I think it’s great! The fact that people can’t get onboard looking like pack horses, taking up other people’s space in the overhead locker saves complaints and time.” — Joshua R
“I travel frequently and it’s insane to see the amount of luggage that people attempt to bring onboard and store overhead. Passengers with laptop bags and small items are forced to sacrifice their legroom and foot space so that others can circumvent the stowed luggage allowances. In the US they often make an announcement when the overhead lockers are almost full and then require anyone with large carry-on items to hand them over to be checked in, as everything simply won’t fit.” — Michelle S
“I find the biggest annoyance is people putting small bags (usually handbags) which could easily go under the seat in front of them, in the overhead. I’ve struggled to find space for my larger (but still within restrictions) carry-on because of this and everyone just pretends they can’t see you, and the hostess struggles to fit things in because they want their foot space. I’d like to see the rule of if you have a carry-on and a small bag or handbag, the small bag must go under the seat in front.” — Samantha O
Con: What if you have to carry expensive, heavy equipment?
Hayden O told us he needs to carry medical equipment with him when he travels, and it weighs 4 kilograms alone.
“So that along with the weight of the suitcase takes me close to the limit as is,” he said.
He’s not alone:
“My issue is that I need to have the extra carry on as I need a bag for my carry on stuff plus I must carry my CPAP with me so it doesn’t get damaged and I can sleep safely in my destination.” — Tim M
“As a keen photographer who can’t put my cameras in the overhead, the 7-kilogram limit is way too low.” — Greg T
Pro: It could save time inside the plane
Less argy-bargy over the overhead compartments may cut down the time it takes to get on and off the plane.
“Waiting for people to move all their stuff into the overhead compartments is a pain. It means it takes longer for people to get on the plane and therefore a possible delay in leaving,” Francesca M said.
“I frequently travel and nearly every trip I take, I have trouble finding a place in the overhead luggage if I don’t get on the plane early. I think they should take it a step further and make travellers check in their supposed ‘cabin size’ bags.” — Cristy M
Con: But as we’ve already mentioned … there’s the queuing at the gate
Seb R told us there was “chaos” at the gate before his flight yesterday.
“They [the bags] must be weighed at check-in to reduce boarding times,” he said.
Others agreed airports were already stressful enough:
“Whilst I agree in principle with why they’re doing it, it adds extra stress at the gate. I always keep to my one bag within carry-on dimensions, but occasionally it’s a kilo over. This extra stress at the airport adds to an already stressful experience. Dimensions and bag limits I agree with, but I’ve never had an issue with my bags being slightly overweight and haven’t once impacted others attempting to share the space.” — Jonathan L
Pro: Airlines say it will mean a safer flight for all
Anton D told us the crackdown would mean all the difference for cabin crew.
“As cabin crew myself, I very much welcome the change. It is not unusual for passengers to carry more than they can handle. What makes you think that we can carry something you can’t without potentially exposing ourselves to unnecessary risk of injury?” he said.
Here’s what others said:
“Having worked for international airlines for 30 odd years and seen the back breaking struggles some people have (and expect you to lift). I think it’s a great idea!” — Anthony W
“I think it is a marvellous decision and quite well overdue. Not only is the extra weight a possible risk within the cabin during a flight, it is also a danger when pilots calculate the weight of the flight to determine things such as the thrust needed for take off and climbing, as well as ensuring the weight does not exceed maximum landing weight.” — Matthew I
Con: It’s just another fee to add to the list
A few of our readers think the crackdown is just another way for airlines to make money.
“Why does my 10-kilogram bag suddenly become much lighter, less dangerous, and easier to handle by flight staff when I give them another $50?” Michael S asked.
Here’s what some other sceptical travellers said:
“It’s 100 per cent driven by the bottom line. If you can’t sneak that extra kilo in your carry-on, you have to check it and overweight charges at the airport are $60-$100. This is just revenue grabbing.” — Kate B
“If it’s such an issue, why do some airlines sell additional carry-on weight? I can understand volume limits, but the weight enforcement stinks of a revenue driver for checked baggage. I travelled through Europe with a 10 kilogram carry-on and never had an issue.” — Robert T
“I think it is ridiculous and just a ploy to take even more money from travellers in the lead-up to Christmas. With high fuel prices they would be trying to recoup costs where they can. I got called out on Sunday as I was over, I told the lady I was going to repack and she scoffed. I put on a few extra layers of clothes and put my 2 kilogram laptop down the front of my shirt so I could be under the limit. Better than $60 they were going to charge!” — Nick H
“I can’t stand everyone scrumming to ram their overhead luggage in. But I’m sure the airlines’ motivation is based on somehow down the line charging people more to take more carry-on luggage rather than caring about comfort or safety.” — Tim B
Pro: This might force us to become better packers
Are you a roller or a folder? This crackdown might make you think more about space.
“I’ve been caught out and had to pay $60 for being over by 2 kilograms. I’d never really thought so much about weight rather than ‘will this fit?’ when purchasing luggage. Turned out my bag weighed 4 kilograms without anything inside it! Hopefully this will push companies to make smarter, lightweight luggage options more accessible for consumers,” Kat B said.
Con: Families say they need a little more wiggle room
Tom M suggested the new rules should only apply to single passengers travelling alone or as a couple, and not to parents with children who often need a little more room.
Shena D agreed airlines should be flexible:
“They should be flexible with plus/minus 300 grams at least, as families with children may need a little more extra.”