Tuesday 20 February 2018

'Hands-free' Flights: Now there's a new airline fee for passengers

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A woman waits for her flight. Photo: Getty
A woman waits for her flight. Photo: Getty
An easyJet flight. Photo: PA Wire/Press Association Images
How to pack like a pro!

Hugh Morris

Easyjet has launched a new service allowing passengers pay to have their hand luggage put in the hold.

Normally fliers would go to great lengths to avoid having their bag placed below, but the budget airline says their “hands-free” option is designed for travellers who don’t want to have to lug their bag round departures.

The airline says passengers can pay £4 each way to check their bags (maximum size 56cm x 45cm x 25 cm, the size of an average cabin case) with a “priority” tag before going through security, promising they will come out “among the first” on the baggage belt at the destination.

Staff at the bag drop will give travellers a small plastic bag in which to place any valuable and essential items.

Easyjet says passengers can enjoy “the freedom of no cabin bag at the airport”, which, the airline claims, would enable them to pass through security without having to unpack their bags or be restricted by liquid limits.

The airline said it trialled the scheme in France in spring, with 9,000 passengers paying for the privilege in just four weeks. It will now be rolled out to all the airline’s airports, except London Gatwick.

An easyJet flight. Photo: PA Wire/Press Association Images
An easyJet flight. Photo: PA Wire/Press Association Images

“We’ve seen a fantastic response from customers upgrading to the Hands Free experience and we’re confident once you go Hands Free you’ll never want to drag cabin baggage through the airport again,” said Andrew Middleton, ancillary revenue director at Easyjet.

However, the idea of paying to have your hand luggage put out of reach in the hold seems a little counter-intuitive, says Adam Ewart, founder of SendMyBag, a door-to-door luggage delivery service.

“Easyjet’s Hands Free service may market itself as stress-free experience but in reality it will offer little help. Most that choose to travel with hand luggage do so to avoid lengthy drop-off queues and time waiting at baggage reclaim,” he said.

“By using this new service, one of the only advantages of travelling with hand luggage is lost.”

In addition to checked hand luggage, passengers will be allowed to take a “small under the seat laptop or handbag” on the aircraft with them.

The issue of luggage has come to the fore recently after a study by Which? found more and more passengers are having their hand baggage forced into the hold because the overhead lockers are full.

It remains to be seem whether Easyjet's new policy will reverse this trend.

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