UK’s CAA Gets Tough on Cabin Baggage

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This topic contains 50 replies, has 26 voices, and was last updated by  famouschicken 13 Dec 2011
at 10:01

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  • Anonymous


    I have seem some huge – almost steamer trunk – size articles trundled aboard on my travels around the US’s domestic services.

    With the advent of limited and/or chargeable checked baggage on many UK carriers, this phenomenon is becoming increasingly prevalent here, especially on shorter European services, and I would imagine it is a serious problem on many LCC’s where online check in means baggage is not inspected by an airline employee until passengers are at the gat.

    The UK’s CAA has issued a new guidance paper on this matter, so watch out for increasing focus in this area:


    Whilst many of the issues were directly related to commercial aspects of the operation, it was still apparent that safety was being compromised due to commercial pressure. There was a lack of standardisation even within the same operator dependent on varying factors. The main safety issues identified were as follows:
    ? Non-compliance with procedures in an operator’s Operations Manual with regard to size and weight of hand baggage;

    ? Exits being blocked by hand baggage during boarding and, usually, refuelling;

    ? Confrontation between cabin crew and ground staff over ownership of delays, possibly leading to non-compliance with safety procedures;

    ? Confrontation between cabin crew and flight crew members, possibly leading to less effective crew resource management;

    ? Confrontation between cabin crew and passengers, possibly leading to disruptive behaviour;

    ? Hand baggage being relocated to the hold (internal or external) without being subject to questioning about content, particularly with regard to spare lithium batteries;

    ? Numerous items of hand baggage being relocated to the external hold without flight crew knowledge and associated mass and balance onsiderations;

    ? Hand baggage being relocated to the internal hold without flight crew knowledge or the supervision of an aircraft loader, and associated mass and balance considerations;

    ? Hand baggage being stowed in non-approved stowages including toilets;

    ? Aircraft taxiing whilst cabin crew were still trying to stow hand baggage;
    ? Passengers standing during taxiing due to inability to stow hand baggage; and

    ? Unrestrained hand baggage being carried on the flight deck.

    3 Compliance/Action to be taken

    3.1 Operators should review their procedures to ensure that they comply with the requirements of OPS 1.270, Appendix 1 to OPS 1.270, Appendix 1 to OPS 1.305, IEM OPS 1.305, OPS 1.325 and Appendix 1 to OPS 1.625.
    ? Procedures must be in place to ensure that only such hand baggage is taken into the aircraft that can be adequately and securely stowed;

    ? Procedures must be in place for flight and cabin crew to verify that if hand baggage is relocated to the hold, it does not contain dangerous goods that are only permitted in carryon baggage such as spare lithium batteries;

    ? Procedures must be in place to ensure that if any last minute change occurs after the completion of the mass and balance documentation, this must be brought to the attention of the commander and the documentation amended if appropriate;

    ? Items of hand baggage must not be stowed in toilets or other non-approved stowages;

    ? Exits must be available for use should an emergency arise during refuelling/defuelling and must not be obstructed;

    ? Passengers must be secured in their seats with their seat belts fastened prior to taxiing;

    ? All escape paths and exits must be unobstructed prior to taxiing; and

    ? Items of hand baggage must not be carried, unrestrained, on the flight deck.


    The problem is also speed of delivery of baggage (see Priority Tag thread too). I rarely travel with hand baggage only as I hate the liquid faffing with toiletries. Also, I have a great trolley case although even that bulges when I pack so I would hate to be clobbered with punitive excess baggage charges.

    My handluggage now consists of my laptop bag which has a couple of pockets for documents, newspapers etc and potentially any duty free that I have bought. Everything else goes in the hold. Haven’t had any mishandling since T5 opening day and before then can’t remember when the last incident was.


    The gat?? Naughty stool for VK – Suggest you get your overworked care nurse to check your spelling before hitting the send key.


    I spotted that spelling error earlier but VK is only a human being and not a Saint!

    May be he wil be “kinder” to the others next time he sees something not so perfect!


    Are you sure he wil be ? Maybe , but I doubt it.


    Nurse has told me to rest. 😉


    The CAA deserves our support. The amount of carry-on baggage that airlines permit is anti-social and dangerous. The CAA should compel all airlines to implement the policies that the airlines themselves set out. On a recent internal flight in the USA (on a B-737) I observed one passenger carry on 5 items – purse, laptop bag, two shopping bags and an obviously oversize and overweight rolling case. Improvement – even an outright solution – is so obvious and simple.



    Wholly agree – there have been several threads in the past on excessive cabin luggage and all regular travellers agree that it is, as you say, both anti-social and dangerous.

    But the difficulty is enforcing rules. You say “the CAA should compel all airlines …”, but how precisely will they do this? At the point of boarding, the airline staff are largely on their own, and the CAA are not much in evidence.

    In an ideal world hand baggage would be checked land-side before security, and only cabin baggage that has an approved sticker would be allowed past security. Some airports do indeed do this, and it semi-works (though it is still open to people to load up on shopping once air-side). But once people have passed security, the gateway to the aeroplane is policed largely by airline staff, and they are not very well equipped to police rules, whether set by CAA or their own airline – their main duty is to get people on the plane quickly and safely and confrontation is not their strong suit. And if bags are too large you then have all the challenge of getting them into the hold somehow – more delays and confusion.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done. In fact it should be done. But it will take resources and cause delays, and as sure as anything there will be someone on this forum who complains about it!



    It will need a 2-stage approach: (i) at check-in and (ii) at boarding, in case of excessive duty-free purchases. I’m no lawyer, but I do believe that the CAA has authority to insist that airlines implement their stated policies. Extra staff training at boarding would, I concede, be needed but any hassle should be dealt with by denying boarding, even arrest for any aggressive reaction. Publicising just a few cases of successful arrest would, in my view, rapidly have the desired effect. At the moment nobody takes the carry-on regulations seriously – and that includes the airlines themselves. It might also have an further indirect benefit for customers in that to minimise delays the airlines would have to get their act together and start boarding at the nominated time and not at the last minute.


    It is impossible to control hand bagage being taken on to an aircraft.

    Passengers just dont show check in staff any “marginally oversized hand lugage”.

    Entering the security lanes, passengers are sometimes turned back to go and check in oversized lugage, but now it is common to see, case, lap top and plastic carrier bag.

    The problems really occurs once through security. Becasue you leave an airport and enter a shopping mall, where even suitcases can be bought, loaded with goods and off the passenger goes, to reenter the airport and board the aircraft, with a weeks shopping.

    At the gate, the staff just want to push the passengers through the boarding process and move the over sized hand bagage problems to the cabin crew who in turn, cant possibly remove all excess bagage and ensure smooth boarding, inside a 20 minute window.

    So the CAA can verbalise threats, but its a solution that will not be supported by BAA as revenue will simply reduce.

    Perhaps if a better gate check in process was created for oversized hand lugage and purchasers, with passengers having to pay for this additional service, not only will a solution be found, but htose casuing the problem, will effectively be funding it.

    The ideal stage is pre security. Passengers have no choice other than to go back to check in if refused through to the security check.



    I reckon you are close to a solution here. However not only will the duty-free concessionaires object and oppose, so will the airlines. Checking extra baggage will reduce the capacity for opportunistic acceptance of last minute urgent freight packages, which earn very high fees (that’s where the airlines got the idea of cartel-charging for checked bags!!). So the opposition would be severe and, as usual, without a lot of courage on the part of the CAA or heavy public opinion on the question of safety, security, etc, the customer’s needs will remain, as usual, bottom of the list of issues for consideration.


    Was on a FlyBe flight ex MAN yesterday. FlyBe have a strict cabin baggage policy, their carry on size is LESS than any normal sixe.

    The guy accross the aisle from me had a large bag, suiter and laptop. Seems like any checks are at check in so hand baggage only PAX can be reasonably confident that NO action will be taken at the gate.

    I observed a sign in the duty free stating that EasyJ will also allow 1 Alpha plastic shopping bag on board as well as the 1 already allowed.


    Just to reinforce, I suggested that passengers are forced to PAY at the gate for arriving at the gate with an oversized cabin allowance. With sufficient warnings given on ticket purchase on check at security control and by the shops, passengers cant say they havent been warned.


    1. speedier boarding process

    2. fairer solution to those who carry within limits

    3. will allow as much hand baggage as required to be carried through, just not be allowed on the aircraft

    4. a system for those that enjoy the benefit of carrying extra hand luggage through security lines to be able to fund the cost.

    5. The shops may do more business by agreeing to deliver newly acquired goods, direct to the aircraft and pay for the additional cost in casuing the pax to have overwight cabin baggage.

    Simple really!


    In the last three years with an Irish carrier I have seen 2 bags pulled aside at the gate for tagging. They have gauges that are never used, passengers board with a wheeled case and suit carriers, some passengers board with a wheeled case and a handbag the same size.

    All that then happens is the passengers who turn up on-time at the gate end up having their smaller luggage pulled out the lockers to make room for the oversized late arrivals.

    I’m sure, from time to time, we have all had slightly oversized baggage, but some passengers really push it.

    There is the other trick though – why pay for hold baggage at check-in? Take it to the gate and they pull you aside, tag it, and put it in the hold FOC!

    We all have a choice – bring a smaller bag, or check it in!

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