Which? says pas­sen­gers suf­fer­ing from cabin bag pres­sure

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

Pre­par­ing to fly home from Italy, Mar­ion Bud­gett packed her sou­venirs care­fully in her hand lug­gage - but they still didn't sur­vive the jour­ney.

At the last minute pas­sen­gers were told their carry-on bags would have to go in the hold.

"We had to leave our cases on the tar­mac. There was no chance to get any­thing out," she says.

A Which? re­port is warn­ing that trav­ellers like Mar­ion are of­ten los­ing out in such cir­cum­stances.

The con­sumer or­gan­i­sa­tion says pas­sen­gers forced to put their hand lug­gage in the air­craft hold are un­likely to be com­pen­sated if the con­tents go miss­ing, are dam­aged or if they miss a con­nect­ing flight as a re­sult.

"When we got the cases back all the stuff was smashed," says Ms Bud­gett, a re­tiree from Lyming­ton, Hamp­shire.

What she lost were only "knick­knacks" she says - a ter­ra­cotta jug, a dish and a piggy bank - meant as gifts. Nev­er­the­less she felt an­noyed - and com­plaints to the air­line, Ryanair, re­ceived no re­sponse.

Trav­ellers aim­ing for a quick get­away on land­ing, or hop­ing to avoid the ex­tra charges for put­ting a suit­case in the hold, are in­creas­ingly pack­ing the largest carry-on bags al­lowed, and put­ting the rest in their pock­ets.

But many planes don't have the ca­pac­ity for a full size bag for ev­ery pas­sen­ger, if the air­craft is full, ac­cord­ing to Which?

For ex­am­ple, it says Ryanair's Boe­ing 737 has a ca­pac­ity of 189 seats, but its over­head lock­ers will manage only 90 of the max­i­mum sized cabin cases.

A re­cent sur­vey of Which? mem­bers sug­gests around one in ten short-haul pas­sen­gers are be­ing asked to hand over their hand lug­gage just be­fore board­ing, of­ten with lit­tle warn­ing and lit­tle time to re­think what you need to put where.

Which? heard from trav­ellers whose carry-on bags had been dam­aged in the hold, or went miss­ing.

Hand lug­gage is not usu­ally pad­locked as pas­sen­gers ex­pect to keep it with them and those sur­veyed re­ported money, elec­tronic tablets, jew­ellery, wal­lets and keys that had gone miss­ing.

Next time Ms Bud­gett says she'll put up more of a fight: "I think I'd just ar­gue and say it's my hand lug­gage it has to go with me."

But she can see why prob­lems keep oc­cur­ring, even if peo­ple know they've left valu­ables in their hand lug­gage.

"You can't be faffing around at the bot­tom of stairs. You can't go through your case get­ting ev­ery­thing out."

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