easyJet hand luggage u-turn dubbed ‘foolish’ attempt to ‘get more cash out of customers’

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easyJet has followed in the footsteps of Ryanair and Wizz Air with the introduction of new charges for passengers hoping to bring a larger item of hand luggage on board. Passengers who book standard-fare tickets to travel from February 10 will now face fees for cabin bags that have to be stored in the overhead locker.

It is a move which consumer rights group Which? believe could have customers wondering whether the airline is simply looking for a “new way to get more cash out of them.”

Travellers will now only be entitled to one small piece of hand luggage each fitting under the seat in front of them.

Currently, the airline allows passengers to bring one can bag on board per person.

There is no weight limit, however, the bag must measure no more than 56 x 45 x 25 cm including handles and wheels.

This bag can be placed in the overhead lockers, or under the seat in front.However, from February 10 this rule is set to change.

According to an update on the airline’s website: “For all travel from February 10, 2021, the seat you have booked will determine what bags you are able to bring on board.

“Everyone can take one small cabin bag per person on board (maximum size 45 x 36 x 20cm, including any handles or wheels), which must fit under the seat in front of you.

“That should be enough to bring all the essentials for your journey or for a short trip. There’s no weight limit, but we do ask that you are able to lift and carry your bag yourself.”

Customers who have booked an “up front” or “extra legroom” seat can bring an additional large cabin bag on board free of charge.

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The airline also says customers who booked travel before the rule change was announced will also be able to bring an extra bag on board at no additional cost.

easyJet has said the new luggage charge will start from £7.99, however, a series of test bookings by PA News agency for flights from Gatwick Airport the day after the change comes in, on February 11 2021, found prices between £17.49 and £21.49.

This adds up to 45 percent on top of basic fares.EasyJet chief commercial and customer officer Robert Carey said: “Punctuality is important to our customers and we know that, if they have their bags placed into the hold at the gate due to the limited space onboard, this can cause flight delays and it can be frustrating for them too.

“Our new policy will improve boarding and punctuality for everyone, as well as give our customers certainty of what they will have with them onboard.”

However, the move has been slammed by consumer and travel experts.

Rob Burgess, editor of UK frequent flyer website www.headforpoints.com said: “It is disappointing to see easyJet following Ryanair and Wizz Air with charges for using the overhead bins.

“A lot of their core business passengers will find that their laptop bag does not meet the guidelines for fitting under their seat.“With passenger demand not predicted to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023, it seems foolish to alienate customers in this way.

“British Airways will be delighted to see some clear water opening up between their policies and their biggest UK competitor for short-haul business passengers.

“What is even more confusing is the unwillingness to allow passengers to buy overhead bin access.“

It only comes with Up Front and Extra Legroom seats, which are all in the front half of the aircraft. The bins in the rear half will be empty!”

Meanwhile, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, recommends customers do their research before booking with easyJet.

He said: “While this decision has been framed as a means of improving boarding and punctuality, airlines make millions from the sale of flight add-ons, so passengers would be forgiven for thinking this is nothing but EasyJet finding a new way to get more cash out of them.

“With Easyjet primarily serving holiday destinations, this new baggage allowance will be of little use to many passengers, who will now feel they have no choice but to pay more.“

We’d advise people to do a proper flight fare comparison before choosing who to fly with, and look at the total price – other carriers may have a higher headline price, but could work out cheaper overall once add-ons like baggage are factored in.”

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