Australian airlines are cracking down on domestic passengers who exceed carry-on baggage limits, with new rules this week forcing all bags to be weighed before boarding.
Virgin Australia will now compel domestic passengers to weigh carry-on bags at the check-in desk and at the boarding gate to comply with the airline’s seven-kilogram carry-on limit.
Paul Woosnam, general manager of ground operations at Virgin Australia, said passengers are trying to bring everything but the “kitchen sink” on domestic flights which was causing flight delays.
“We’re seeing injuries to our cabin crew caused by closing overhead lockers full of heavy baggage,” Mr Woosnam told The New Daily.
The restrictions come a week after Qantas announced it would tighten its carry-on luggage rules for domestic passengers, and also police weight limits.
Qantas limits carry-on baggage to two pieces, neither of which can weigh more than seven kilograms.
Bags that are found to be oversized have to go in to planes’ cargo holds, with other checked luggage.
A Qantas spokesman told The New Daily the airline is “renewing its focus” on cabin baggage within the allowances to ensure passengers had their fair share of space onboard.
“Qantas offers the most generous amount of cabin baggage of any Australian airline and we know customers like the convenience of not having to check in luggage,” he said.
“But we’re getting feedback from regular flyers who say all customers need to be reminded about how much luggage they can take on board,” the spokesman said.
He said ensuring allowances were being followed would also help reduce delays during boarding and ensure on-time departures.
“Cabin bins that are too full or bags that are too heavy can cause a safety risk for both customers and crew.”
Low-cost carriers already ‘monitoring’ luggage
Low-cost carriers Jetstar and Tigerair Australia already use scales to ensure carry-on luggage doesn’t exceed weight limits.
A Jetstar spokesman said the company’s airport teams regularly monitored and kept a close check on carry-on luggage to ensure customers complied with the seven kilogram limit.
“These checks can include weighing combined carry-on items, including laptop bags, wheeled bags and handbags, at either the check-in counter or the boarding gate,” the spokesman said.
“Like most airlines, adding extra kilos at check-in or at the gate, whether it be three kilograms, will cost more than it will online in advance.”
A Tigerair Australia spokesman said the airline was continuing to trial a program of tagging carry-on bags to show they have been weighed and cleared before boarding.
The airline also has a seven kilogram cabin baggage limit, with an optional upgrade to 12 kilograms available for a fee.
Additional weight: ‘Serious safety risks’
Professor Ann Williamson, aviation safety expert at UNSW Sydney, said additional weight posed serious safety risks for airlines.
“If there was an incident where an aircraft moved vertically, horizontally or banked, anything extra that might fly around is going to be a hazard and could seriously injure a passenger,” Professor Williamson said.
She welcomed the airlines’ crackdown as she thought passengers had engaged in sneaky carry-on behaviour for a long time.
“It doesn’t take much to have seven kilograms, and passengers are trying to get away with taking more on board so they can get straight out without having to wait to pick up their luggage,” she said.