Be prepared if parted with your bag on short-haul flights

Passengers forced to put hand luggage into the hold because airlines say they don’t have space in the cabin could miss out on compensation if valuables go missing, warn Which?.

Which? asked more than 7,000 passengers about the 11,000 flights they had been on in the last year and found that over a quarter (26%) of Ryanair passengers, and nearly one in seven (15%) easyJet customers, unexpectedly had to check in their cabin bag at the gate on their most recent flight​.

There are a range of hidden problems that people may not be aware of when they put carry-on luggage into the hold. Which? found these included:

  • The wait at the luggage carousel for belongings can mean missing an onward connecting flight, but airlines are not required to pay you compensation for consequential loss as a result of this type of delay.
  • Which? also heard from travellers whose cabin bags were damaged in the hold, or didn’t arrive at the destination at all.
  • Airlines also regularly fail to remind passengers to remove valuables when handing over cabin luggage, and may refuse to accept responsibility when ​valuables go missing from luggage that they forced passengers to put in the hold.
  • To make matters worse, the ‘big five’ travel insurance companies – Aviva, Axa, Churchill, Direct Line and LV – all told Which? that valuables placed in the hold are excluded from their policies.
  • While customers have for years been encouraged to travel with hand luggage only, most plane cabins simply don’t have room for all that hand luggage, despite claims from airlines that passengers will only need to check in bags on exceptionally busy flights. Ryanair’s Boeing 737 planes, for example, have 189 seats, but its overhead bins fit just 90 cabin cases. So even if the plane is just over half full, some passengers could be left with no option but to hand over their cabin bag.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:

“Plane cabins are not designed to hold a large number of small suitcases so you should ​be prepared to part with your​ carry-on​ bag​​.

“If you have to put a bag in the hold at the last minute, try to ​remove wallets, keys, laptops and other ​valuables.

“If items do go missing from your hand luggage that you had intended to keep with you, do make clear to the airline​ that you expect compensation.”
Notes to eds

  1. In June 2016, 7,534 Which? members completed an online survey about their flying experiences from the UK in the last 12 months. The infographic shows the percentage of respondents who flew short haul, by airline, who were asked to put their hand luggage in the hold
  2.  Baggage in the hold
    bags in the hold

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