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Make sure your bag is fit for purpose, or it could end up costing you dear

BOOKED ON a recent flight to Europe, I was pulled aside by one of the airline check-in staff of a certain budget airline, requesting that I place my single piece of hand luggage in the baggage gauge to check whether it was of the required size for the cabin

It just failed. I had been carrying rather a large hardback book as well, to save taking it out of the bag once on board. This, I believe, was my downfall, as the stipulation was for one ‘bag’ only. Ok, hands up, I should have checked, but the bag had specifically been purchased as being cabin compatible, so the automatic presumption was that it would fit the bill. When I complained that many of the passengers in the queue were wheeling bags far larger than mine, the protestation fell on deaf ears of the somewhat abrupt and, yes, rude, member of staff. The misdemeanour cost me an on-the-spot charge of £40 excess baggage fee. I vowed never to travel with the airline again, and I remain true to my word.

SKU_248242-atlantic-blue-limestone_enlargedWhich brings me to the point of this blog. When flying short-haul in Europe, why is there no set standard size of allowable cabin baggage across all the airlines, budget or otherwise? How often have you gone into a store to buy yourself a new set of luggage, found one tagged ‘cabin compatible bag’, to then read in the small print that you should check with the airline that you are next travelling with to ensure your bag is of the correct dimensions? After all, whether you are flying with BA, EasyJet, or whoever, you will no doubt board a Boeing-737 or the like, which have the same overhead lockers, so why cannot we expect a standardised sizing for cabin baggage?

Lowe Alpine’s new AT Roll-On 40 (22″)

Five years ago, the Department for Transport no longer set a maximum size for items of hand baggage, advising passengers to always check size limits with their airline and airport before travel. According to a survey noted on skyscanner, 82 per cent of UK air passengers want all airlines to have the same cabin bag allowance. A normal cabin bag measures 55x40x20cm. Fly with easyJet, for example, and they will allow you 56x45x25cm, including handle and wheels. British Airways offer one of the most generous free hand baggage allowances of any airline, the cabin bag measuring 56x45x25cm, including handles, pockets and wheels, and weighing in at 23kg. You can also carry a personal bag (45x36x20cm). As a frequent flyer, I am amazed at the size and weight of some of the baggage that is hauled up the steps to the cabin, only for the owner(s) to complain that there is no room in the overhead lockers. As for shoving the baggage under the seat in front of them… forget it.

I have just received some very nice baggage to test from Lowe Alpine. The AT Roll-On 40 (22″) is sized to fit ‘most’ airline hand luggage regulations, and comes complete with a list of airlines currently accepting the bag as cabin compatible. A nice idea. As a back-up, once again you are strongly recommended to always double check with your airline website before flying as rules are subject to change. Why? I ask. Is it not about time a precedent was set to make ‘one bag fits all’? At least we would know exactly where we stand, and avoid much of the stress of pre-packing and weighing. In the meantime, do not forget to give a good tug on those compression straps.

– Michael Cowton

About The Author

Mike Cowton

Michael Cowton, an outdoors writer, editor and photographer with a passion for nature-based travel and wildlife. He is a former editor of EcoTravel, Outdoor Pursuits, Camping, Lakeland Walker and Which Motorcaravan magazines, and national newspaper journalist.

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