Thursday 22 February 2018

Honey, I want to shrink the luggage

Passengers wait with their luggage at an airport
Passengers wait with their luggage at an airport

Gemma O'Doherty

What keeps Michael O'Leary awake at night? Wondering which of his favourite cabin crew to put in the Ryanair calendar?

Calculating how much internet porn you could sell at 30,000 feet, or debating whether anyone would ever be smart enough to design a loo-free plane?

Chances are, none of the above.

No, any sheep counting that's done in O'Leary Towers is likely to be caused by baggage, and how to rid the world of it -- for good.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Europe's wealthiest aviator loves the stuff, because of all the dosh it churns into his heaving coffers. But you'd be wrong.

The truth is he hates it with a passion. He hates it because it eats up fuel, takes up time being loaded on to his planes and produces tedious angry customers when it goes missing.

Yet we, the flying public, just don't seem to get it.

So, until such time as we submit to Michael's way of doing things, he's going to keep on making it harder and harder for us to take our bits and bobs with us when we go abroad.

His latest ploy is one of his most pro-active yet. Baggage 'bounty hunters' have been deployed on a trial basis at Liverpool John Lennon Airport to hunt down customers who are chancing their luck taking bulky bags into the cabin when they should be putting them in the hold.

Employees of the baggage-handling agent Servisair earn 50p for every carry-on bag they target as overweight, and refuse -- although they only qualify for the payment once they have reached a minimum of 10 bags per week.

No surprises there.

Hard-up airport staff, desperate to make a few extra quid for Christmas, are said to be gung-ho about the bonus policy, sniffing out anyone who might be trying to avoid paying checked-baggage fees by taking bulging bags on board to store in overhead bins.

If the scheme is profitable and forces passengers to cut down on carry-on luggage, then it could be introduced at Irish airports.

Either way, if you're flying with the airline over the next few weeks, don't make the mistake of packing too much or you can expect a dressing-down at the departure gate and a hefty bill.

Before you leave for the airport, check the dimensions of your cabin bag. It should be no more than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (22in x 16in x 8in), including wheels, with a maximum weight of 10kg (22lb).

And don't be naive enough to think that because it's the season of goodwill, a blind eye will be turned to those stocking fillers you threw in at the last minute.

Ryanair has never claimed to be Santa Claus. Surely you know that by now.

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