The European Parliament has overwhelmingly approved a resolution to standardize the dimensions of hand luggage that can be measured in aircraft cabins. Strasbourg asks the European Commission to expedite the procedures for a regulation that establishes rules on baggage and that all EU airlines must accept, which today have their own criteria to stop, deny or charge for access to the cabin of the plane.
The absence of regulation in this regard has meant that each one established their own rules for entering with the suitcase, its dimensions, the number of pieces that can be measured and the fees to be charged in the event that boarding is denied at the plane door. . . This situation has given rise to continuous reproaches from many travelers, to the point that the Government of Spain announced the opening of a file against airlines to prevent travelers from flying with their suitcases in the cabin.
To avoid confusion and with a view to standardizing these access conditions and the common minimum baggage dimensions, the European Parliament has given its approval to a resolution that will force airlines to operate under the same conditions, always taking into account the different models. of aircraft and their interior configurations. The proposal was presented in the petitions committee by Jordi Cañas, MEP from Ciudadanos, and defended in plenary by the president of this body, the also Spanish Dolors Montserrat (PP).
The request is based on a communication from the European Commission from 2020 that calls for reviewing the framework that regulates passenger rights. What was approved today seeks for the European Union to finalize the necessary legislation so that passengers are more protected, better reinforced and that airlines operate under harmonized conditions within the European market, in order to improve the travel experience.
In its resolution, the European Parliament recalls the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union that considers that hand luggage must be considered an “indispensable element” in the transport of passengers, as long as it meets “reasonable requirements” of weight. . and dimensions, and therefore, “cannot be subject to a price supplement”.
“Airlines around the world have divergent policies and restrictions on the size and weight of hand luggage that passengers can bring on board, often leading to confusion, inconvenience, less comfortable travel experiences, delays and sometimes conflicts between passengers and airline staff,” states the resolution approved today.
It also mentions that “it could be considered an abusive or unfair practice” and that it makes operations difficult for connecting flights, and remembers that “the freedom of pricing of airlines does not include the prices of hand luggage.” Therefore, he believes that harmonizing the size, weight and type requirements for hand and checked baggage throughout the EU will increase transparency in airline operations and benefit travelers. The ball now passes to the Commission, in charge of developing the final standard.
Airlines respond to Strasbourg: “It is not firm”
The Association of Airlines (ALA) has issued a statement as soon as the approval of the proposal was known in which it defends that it is not yet binding, given that the final decision is in the hands of the European Commission, “and therefore the companies airlines are not obliged to change their cabin hand luggage policy”, as Ryanair had already alleged.
The airline employers assure that commercial practices such as charging for luggage in the cabin “are perfectly legal and are protected by European Regulation 1008/2008, which establishes the freedom to set fares.” They argue that passengers are always aware of the selected price, being able to choose optional services and paying for as many as they need.
“These practices respond to the principle of giving consumers the ability to choose, so that each consumer, at all times, can choose what they need,” they explain. They give as an example that “many passengers travel without hand luggage”, up to 40% for certain companies, something that allows them to “pay for only the services that are really needed.”
Likewise, they assure that the baggage charge is due to operational reasons: “there is a tendency to carry the suitcase in the cabin and not check it in, but the planes do not have the physical capacity to accommodate all the small suitcases or trolleys of all the passengers. They do not fit more than 90, depending on the type of plane,” they say. If the capacity is exceeded, the excess suitcases have to be taken to the hold, something that “can cause delays in departure,” according to the employer’s association.