New rules leave airline passengers facing chaos and confusion


Passengers flying from UK airports today face chaos and confusion at check-in desks with the introduction of complex new rules on hand-baggage allowance.

From today, the Department of Transport is allowing two items of hand luggage to be carried through 22 UK airports, including Glasgow, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Heathrow, London City, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth, Southampton, Southend and Stansted.

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But other airports have not yet been given permission to accept more than one bag, including Gatwick, Luton, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool.

Some airlines will continue to restrict passengers to one item of hand luggage, even at airports which have permission to carry more.

Passenger action groups yesterday urged travellers to check their allowance with their airline before leaving home. A full list of airports and airlines allowing more than one bag – and those with continued restrictions – is listed below.

Neil Pakey, deputy chairman of the Airport Operators Association, said: “Different rules for different airlines and airports means that it is essential passengers check the situation before they fly.

“Other restrictions, such as the carrying-on of liquids, remain in force. I would urge passengers to plan ahead, to avoid any unnecessary last-minute hassle.”

Simon Evans, chief executive of the Air Transport Users Council, said: “We have told the Government that there is potential for confusion.

“Since August 2006, we have all been urging people to become acquainted with the one-bag rule and to read the Department of Transport advice. Now the message has changed and there is no longer one consistent message.”

EasyJet, the low cost airline carrier and Gatwick’s biggest customer, is retaining the one-bag rule for all its flights. It charges £8 for each bag put in the hold.

Andy Harrison, Easyjet’s chief executive, said: “There is massive scope for customer confusion in an environment where UK airports are adopting different policies. The only way to maintain a simple and standard policy is to maintain our one-bag policy.”

British Airways says it will allow all passengers to carry two bags, where permitted by the airport. Others, such as BMI and Virgin, are allowing one bag and a “small bag” in economy and two bags plus a “small bag” in business or first class.

Gatwick, which handled 32 million passengers last year, is likely to remain restricted until March. The airport is allowing two bags on connecting flights through the south terminal from today and through the north terminal from 11 February.

The warnings come as a survey is released suggesting as many as 10 per cent of UK adults have had luggage lost or misplaced at airports within the last two years. More than 30 per cent distrust baggage handlers at UK airports, the survey for the InsureandGo company found.

Airports allowing more than one bag












London City











Airlines’ policy

Easjet: economy (one); business/first (one)

Ryanair: economy (one); business/first (one)

BMI: economy (one and a small bag); business/first (two and a small bag)

Virgin Atlantic: economy and premium economy (one and a small bag); business/first (two and a small bag)

British Airways: economy (two); business/first (two)

American Airlines: economy (two); business/first (two)

Lufthansa: economy (one and a small bag); business/first (two and a small bag)

Air France: economy (one and a small bag); Business/First: (two, one slightly smaller) and a small bag

Qantas: economy (one); Business/First (two)

*Small bag equals size of laptop bag or handbag.

Key facts on hand luggage

Passengers should check their entitlement with their airline before they leave home or at check-in.

Bags larger than 56cm long, 45cm high and 25 cm deep must be checked in

Passengers can take liquids as hand luggage so long as they are contained in individual containers of no more than 100mls and are contained in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag no larger than 20 cm x 20cm. Only one bag per passenger is permitted.