The increasingly thorny issue of cabin baggage
Airline Jet2 are in the news this weekend, with an article in the Daily Mail highlighting their new policy of charging for guaranteed cabin baggage. You can read the article here:
I was a little suspicious, given the propensity of the Daily Mail to be economical with the truth, so I did some fact checking. Buried within the Jet2 website, and revealed as far as I could see only after you have reserved flights and are well into the booking process, is the opportunity to pay extra to keep your bag with you:
Subject to availability, you can pre-book “guaranteed cabin baggage” for an extra charge, and if you have purchased this service, you will not be asked to put your hand baggage in the hold (unless it exceeds the weight and size requirements detailed above or operational requirements apply). If we require your guaranteed cabin baggage to go into the hold for operational requirements, you can contact customer services to arrange a refund for any charges which you have paid for this service.
I tried a sample booking of a flight from Stansted to Dubrovnik. The cost of ensuring your cabin baggage made it into the cabin with you (subject to those operational requirements not being necessary, of course) was £3 per person per leg, a little more than the £2.59 quoted in the Mail’s article.
Would you pay it?
I’m not sure I would. But then I’ve rarely taken a suitcase on board and instead prefer to check it or, better still, leave it behind. I find it irritating to wait while wheelie after wheelie bangs its way down the aisle, though with airlines charging to put such luggage in the hold, I can hardly blame those doing so. But this not only slows boarding, it often means that there’s too much luggage to fit. I’ve taken many a Ryanair flight – the airline guarantees only the first 90 carry on bags will make it on board – and watched it all kick off as people are asked (or not) to hand over their bags. My fairly small day pack has always made it on board, I presume because it can fit between my feet and wouldn’t have to be placed in the overhead bins.
Wizz Air, it would seem, have had to backtrack on their plans to charge for guaranteed larger sized cabin baggage. You can take on a bag of up to 42x32x25cm free of charge, but to carry on an item up to the maximum dimensions (55x40x23cm) there’s a price to pay. Until 29th October 2017, this can be anything from 10 to 20 euros according to the small print on their website (35 euros if you take care of business at the airport), but this add-on disappears after that date, supposedly incorporated into the price of your seat. Have Wizz caved under the pressure of customer complaints, I wonder?
At this point, you’re likely to be muttering things about budget airlines, but they’re not the only offenders. Increasingly, scheduled, so-called full service airlines are supplementing their fares with extra fees and charges. And when it comes to revenue “earned” by such add-ons, you might be surprised to learn who the worst offenders are:
Some airlines are worryingly reliant on additional revenue as a share of their total earnings. You can read the full report here:
So, even on a scheduled airline, if I want to select my seat in advance (and even as a solo traveller I might, or risk being stuck in that middle seat that no one wants) I’m likely to have to pay for the privilege. At the moment at least, I’m not likely to have to hand over my carry on luggage but who knows how long that might last?
I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this. As travellers, if we’re determined to do so on as low a budget as possible, we’re going to have to think hard about what we really need to take with us. I shared my packing tips here:
Taking large suitcases will perhaps become a luxury rather than the norm. It will certainly be interesting to see if Jet2’s new policy lasts the distance, and if it does, whether other airlines will follow suit.
What are your views? Would you pay to ensure your bag comes on board with you or do you think it’s one rip-off too many? I’d love to hear what you think.