Monday, February 27, 2012

Limiting Weight of Carry-On Bags for Safety

(photo credit: USA Today)
One of the effects of the common practice of charging for checked-bags by the airlines are heavier and an increased number of carry-on bags. These bags can be dangerous if they fall out of bins and most passengers are unaware that these bins have specific weight limits. If you damage the overhead bin, you'll receive the ire other passengers who can no longer use the bin either.

So far Hawaiian Airlines is the first among domestic carriers in enforcing a 25-pound weight limit for carry-on bags. Among other airlines, US Airways personnel may insist a bag be checked if it exceeds 40 pounds. Don't be surprised if Hawaiian personnel asks you to weigh carry-on bags at check-in or ask you to use the the luggage sizer (or portable luggage scales, if available) at the gate. One time on flight from Hilo, Hawaii to Honolulu, I noticed gate agents walking around the waiting area looking at passenger carry-on bags. They did have the courtesy to announce they would be doing so. However I have not seen this practice recently.

Foreign airlines are not immune either to the practice of limiting the weight of bags brought into the cabin. Some in fact have even more stricter carry-on limits:

  • Emirates, 15 pounds
  • Lufthansa, 17.5 pounds
  • Qantas, 15 pounds
  • Virgin Atlantic, 13 pounds

Click HERE to view each airline's carry-on weight limit from AirfareWatchDog.

Heavy carry-on bags presents a liability for the airline, the owner of the bag or the passenger who opens a bin should they be at fault for causing injury to another passenger. Also remember the flight crew is there for your safety and many flight attendants will not stow your bags for you. But on one American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Philadelphia, the flight attendants played what I would call the carry-on bag shuffle as they walked up and down the cabin trying to fit bags or moving them from bin to bin to accommodate the abundance of carry-on bags. Finally for your well-being, no passenger should attempt to bring a bag on board they cannot lift themselves and risk getting injured.

For myself, I try to pack light for short trips so I don't have to check any bags. For longer trips, my carry-on will hold only the valuables and some basic necessities just in case (such as an extra change of clothes) and travel size of some toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush) for long layovers. But with the rising cost of checked-bag fees I don't blame passengers trying to save money especially in these days of rising airfares, fees and fuel.


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