New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer may make several new fans on the frequent-flyer circuit on Sunday, as he conducted a news conference to blast airlines for a proposal to reduce the allowable size of carry-on baggage. The current standards, depending on the airline, range from 22 to 24 inches long by 14 to 18 inches wide, and 9 to 16 inches of depth. The airline industry’s trade group, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recommended standardizing the size requirements to a uniform 21.5 inches by 13.5 inches, with a depth of 7.5 inches for all carry-on luggage. The Senator told the Associated Press after Sunday’s press conference in New York City, “We want to blow the whistle on this before it happens. Enough already! They charge a fee for peanuts, for leg room, for just about anything.” Although IATA has no legal authority and the standards are not binding, several international carriers have already agreed to adopt them, including Air China, Lufthansa, and Emirates Airlines among several others.
IATA claims that the new standards would help ensure that passengers in aircrafts with more than 120 seats will all have room to store their bags, instead of late-boarding passengers getting stuck holding their luggage, which commonly occurs on heavily-trafficked flights. According to IATA senior vice-president for airport, passenger, cargo and security, Tom Windmuller, “The development of an agreed optimal cabin bag size will bring common sense and order to the problem of differing sizes for carry-on bags. We know the current situation can be frustrating for passengers. This work will help to iron out inconsistencies and lead to an improved passenger experience.”Schumer believes, however, that the changing standards are another way for airlines to charge more extra-baggage fees. Schumer also noted that airline profits are “expected to soar” this year, largely due to the drop in fuel prices worldwide and therefore, customers deserve a break.
Schumer also noted that the changing standards could cost travelers hundreds of dollars in order to replace carry-on bags that fit the current standards, but would be considered oversized if the new guidelines were to be put in place. Schumer is hoping that consumer pressure will force the airlines to reconsider the idea, saying “Luggage companies have made carry-on bags and now, all of a sudden, millions of them won’t fit.”In a June 9th press release, Windmuller said that IATA is working with airlines and luggage manufacturers to utilize and display an “IATA Cabin OK” logo that will let airline staff know that the bag was designed with the new guidelines in place. According to its website, IATA represents over 260 airlines and 83 percent of all global air traffic. According to Schumer, U.S. airlines will likely decide in the next few months whether or not to adopt the standards.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – David Riley