Have Bag Will Travel, Or Maybe Not

Trading Standards warns travellers to check cabin baggage size before leaving for the airport.

With holidays approaching, the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service (TSS) today warned airline travellers to check the size of their cabin baggage before heading to the airport.

Have you checked that your travel bag or case meets the size requirements for the airline? You could be faced with a surcharge up to £65 if it is 0.5cm over.

TSS has recently received complaints from consumers claiming that some metal baggage sizers were smaller than that airline’s permitted size for cabin baggage, resulting in their cabin bag not fitting into the sizer and the traveller being charged a £50 fee to have it placed in the aircraft hold.

Over the past few weeks Trading Standards have measured the dimensions of 47 metal and non-metal baggage sizers used by airlines at each of the three airports in Northern Ireland. All of the baggage sizers tested by weights and measures Inspectors were found to measure in excess of the maximum dimensions permitted by each airline for cabin baggage.

However, it was noted that the majority of baggage sizers tested were found to measure only 0.5cm in excess, leaving very little room for error. Non-metal cardboard baggage sizers were found to be more generous to consumers, measuring 1.5cm – 2cm in excess of the stated length by width by depth dimensions.

TSS can confirm that the baggage sizers currently being used by airlines in Northern Ireland are accurately described and do not breach consumer protection laws.

Michelle Craig, TSS Area Inspector, said: “Given the variation and complexity of luggage allowances across different airlines, it is unsurprising that this causes confusion for consumers. Some airlines have stated that they now intend to enforce their baggage size policy more strictly than they have done in the past. Therefore, it is important to be aware that the suitcase you have used to travel with previously, without any issues, could now be checked and no longer accepted by the airline.”

TSS has issued the following tips for people to follow when flying:

  • Make sure you know the airline’s baggage allowance and policy before you fly, particularly the permitted baggage dimensions, and any fees applied for oversize baggage;
  • Measure your cabin bag from its most extreme points (including handles and wheels) to ensure it is within the permitted baggage allowance for the airline that you are flying with;
  • Weigh your baggage before going to the airport;
  • Do not overfill your cabin bag as this could result in it not fitting in the sizer;
  • If your bag is more than 0.5cms than the permitted measurements set by the airline, it is highly likely that it will not fit in the sizer;
  • If you are not adhering to the terms and conditions of the airline’s baggage policy you must be prepared to pay a fee which can range from £25 to £65;
  • Finally, if you have had to pay a charge for an oversize bag on the outbound leg of journey, be aware that the same bag may incur another charge on the return leg. It may be worth considering checking the bag into the hold online, in advance, as this may work out cheaper than paying another fee.  

If you think you need more advice on this or you wish to seek advice on any other consumer related matter, please contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.