Hand luggage: travelers in the jungle of regulations – news.ORF.at

While it was a given that you can bring one piece of checked baggage – i.e. a large suitcase weighing around 20 kilograms – while traveling by air, now the payment system has changed significantly. Almost all airlines offer cheap tickets that do not include check-in baggage. Space is limited there as well, as most passengers travel with hand luggage trolleys that have to fit in the compartments above the seats.

The latest development, driven by low-cost airlines, is now moving towards more differentiation: cheap tickets have long been available for passengers boarding only “one personal item” and without a suitcase or large bag.

Delay due to packing of baggage

Apart from the actual space issue, time also plays a role in this fare structure: the more luggage you carry into the cabin, the longer it takes to pack everything into the small boxes and seats – which counts as time spent. Every minute at the airport is tight, and delays cost airlines money.

ORF.at/Günther Rosenberger

Space is limited on board: For safety reasons, luggage must be stowed in compartments or in pre-defined footwells under seats.

The European Union has also been concerned with this issue for some time. The European Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that hand luggage should not be subject to any additional charges if it does not exceed “normal dimensions”. Late last year, the EU Parliament called on the EU Commission to impose uniform price and quantity specifications.

According to Transport Commissioner Adina Velin, such responsibility is not possible for airlines – they do not want to engage in “micromanagement”. However, airlines will be encouraged to ensure uniform rules for hand luggage. Airlines and aircraft manufacturers must come together to develop solutions.

Dimensions and weight specifications vary

An important rule when planning your trip is to carefully read the separately booked luggage guidelines. There aren't always strict checks, especially on overbooked routes and peak travel times, but checks are carried out at the gate before departure to see if the suitcases and bags you've brought do indeed conform to the correct dimensions and weight specifications. .

The tolerance range is usually low; If it exceeds a few centimeters or grams, additional costs will be incurred, which will be significantly higher than the price of pre-checked baggage.

Classic airlines are relatively generous

On AUA, parent company Lufthansa, even on the cheapest “Economy Light” fare, you can bring a maximum of eight kilograms of hand luggage in an average small trolley (55/40/23 cm). on the plane. Additionally, a second “personal item” is allowed, even with a cheaper fare.

It has no space in the compartment above the seats, although it can usually be used if there is enough capacity. According to the AUA, this can be a handbag, a shoulder bag or a laptop bag with a maximum size of 40/30/10 cm.

Passengers with luggage in front of the AUA counter at Vienna-Schwechat Airport

ORF.at/Wolfgang Rieder

At the airport, baggage can be checked to see if it meets the guidelines

A question of ownership

If you opt for cheap tickets from low-cost airlines, you will need to carry significantly less luggage at your destination. On Ryanair, Wizz Air, Eurowings, easyJet, Vueling, TUI Fly and others, a “personal item” – sometimes referred to as “underseat bag” or “underseat bag” – is now allowed on the base fare. Exact dimensions vary by airline, but generally a bag or small suitcase should fit under the front seat.

Note that

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Whether a “personal item”, as the easyJet homepage writes, is enough to “carry essential items with you for your trip or short holiday” should be decided in advance based on individual needs. For most fare models, additional or larger baggage is cheaper if purchased at the time of booking the flight.

Special rules and open jaw flights

Almost all airlines have exceptions to the baggage rules for passengers traveling with infants and small children, for example, when carrying child seats and collapsible buggies. In this case too, the regulations vary greatly, so it is better to clarify this in advance with the airline. Passengers who have booked outward, onward or return flights with different airlines should also note that the pieces of baggage allowed may vary.

A woman with two trolleys at the airport

IMAGO/Rolf Poss

Two strollers and a small backpack: Seemingly small luggage can be expensive

Regardless of airline guidelines, another challenge when planning a vacation is international safety regulations. Prohibited items include weapons, tools and sharp objects; Liquids can be carried in hand luggage only in containers of 100 ml capacity and must be packed in a transparent plastic bag.

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