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European Union Considers Crackdown on Carry-On Baggage Fees

The European Parliament has drafted a resolution urging airlines to enforce a 2014 ruling that no air passenger should be charged for reasonable hand luggage

by Fergus Cole

October 3, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Bambi Corro / Unsplash

Passengers traveling within Europe may soon be able to board flights with essential hand luggage without extra charges, regardless of their airline, as the European Union (EU) plans to vote on a crackdown on carry-on baggage fees.

In 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that cabin baggage should be deemed an essential part of travel for air passengers as long as it meets specific requirements, such as size and weight.

However, that ruling, which also decided that passengers should not be charged any extra fees by airlines for traveling with such hand luggage, has not been fully enforced by various EU member states and airlines.

Photo: Courtesy of Artur Voznenko / Unsplash

But almost a decade since the ruling, the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (PETI) has drafted a resolution calling on all airlines to enforce it and allow their passengers to board flights with reasonable hand luggage at no additional cost.

The European Parliament will vote this month on whether to adopt the resolution.

“Low-cost companies are doing business with the price of tickets by hiding the supplement for carrying cabin luggage until the end of purchase,” said the Committee. “Europe has already spoken out on the matter, and even so, Member States continue to allow airlines to play with prices and deceive travelers. This must end.”

The resolution aims to make sure that airlines eliminate carry-on baggage fees. It also demands consistency regarding the definition of “reasonable” size and weight across all carriers.

Photo: Valencia Airport, Spain. Courtesy of Rob Wilson / Unsplash

Currently, there is a lot of variation in airlines’ baggage policies, which can lead to confusion and unexpected charges for customers, especially those connecting flights with different airlines.

Airlines are also urged to be more transparent about their pricing and additional costs, including seat allocation charges and flight times. In its resolution, the European Parliament states that it “considers that hidden and additional costs restrict the possibility of comparing the offers made by different airlines,” thus hampering the consumer’s ability to make an informed choice about the best deal.

The resolution comes just two months after the Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs launched an investigation into low-cost carriers over hand luggage fees and other hidden costs.

Photo: Ryanair, Boeing 737-800. Courtesy of Portuguese Gravity / Unsplash

According to the Spanish consumer rights group Facua, multiple complaints have been made against low-cost airlines, including Ryanair, easyJet, Vueling, and Eurowings, due to carry-on baggage charges.

The EU’s crackdown on hidden airline fees is similar to what is happening in the U.S., with the Biden administration calling for an end to so-called’ junk fees’ in the airline industry earlier this year.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has since created an online dashboard detailing which domestic airlines charge for family seating allocations and those that compensate passengers affected by controllable delays and cancellations.

JetBlue became the latest U.S. carrier to guarantee that children aged 13 and under can be seated next to their parent or accompanying adult at no extra charge.