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AC starts crackdown on carry on bags

Oct. 1, 2014, Montreal - Air Canada has begun cracking down on passengers with carry-on bags to make sure their luggage fits in overhead bins as it prepares to start charging domestic passengers $25 for their first checked bags next month.


October 1, 2014
By The Globe and Mail

The airline began a trial program at Pearson International Airport in
Toronto on Tuesday to make sure carry-on bags meet the 10-kilogram
weight limit and regulations on size.

Extra personnel were added to departure gates in Toronto Tuesday to
help customers check in and make sure bags were the right size and
weight, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said.

 

“This will
also facilitate an orderly transition to the implementation of a
domestic first checked bag fee beginning in November,” Mr. Fitzpatrick
said.

 

The change to a fee is widely expected to mean passengers will try to bring more carry-on bags.

 

That
in turn, could lead to delays in take-offs as luggage gets measured and
then sent out to be added to the belly of the plane instead of the
cabin.

 

If the carry-on luggage is too big, “the gate staff tag the
bag, that bag has to be manually taken down the jetway stairs to the
tarmac, into the plane,” said Robert Kokonis, president of AirTrav Inc.,
Toronto-based airline consulting firm. “All that takes time.”

 

Mr. Kokonis said he’s in favour of the move. He takes a carry-on bag, but sticks to the limits.

 

“Nobody wants to hold up a flight, especially their own,” he added.

 

Industry observers said the policy has not been strictly enforced.

 

“They
need to be strict on cabin baggage because they have crammed so many
seats in there that they need to do whatever they can do to give people
space,” said one travel agent.

 

The airline allows passengers to
carry what it calls one standard article and one personal article on to
its planes, such as carry-on luggage, knapsacks, camera bags and some
garment bags.

 

Each of these articles has a weight limit of 10
kilograms. Standard articles have a maximum size of 23 by 40 by 55
centimetres, while personal articles are limited to items 16 by 33 by 43
centimetres.

 

Analysts estimate the fees could generate revenue of between $40-million and $100-million for the airline.

 

Air
Canada is following on the heels of WestJet Airlines Ltd., which
announced the baggage fee last month. Air Canada followed a few days
later.

 

The two airlines have estimated that the baggage fees will
apply to about 20 per cent of their passengers. Air Canada already
charges for checked bags on trans-border flights.

 

WestJet said it
isn’t stepping up surveillance of what passengers bring on board its
aircraft ahead of the introduction of its own checked baggage fee Oct.
29.

 

“No change for us,” said spokesman Robert Palmer. “We have
always made the announcement about carry-on needing to fit in the sizing
devices, and we do ask people to put their bags in the device to make
sure it will fit.”

 

WestJet chief financial officer Vito Culmone
recently said it expects the new fee could reduce checked bags by 20 to
30 per cent, based on experience of other airlines.