Flybe passengers angry as airline takes new ‘zero tolerance’ stance on hand baggage rules

The policy isn’t new, but Flybe’s enforcement of it has taken travellers by surprise

Helen Coffey@LenniCoffey
Friday 01 February 2019 16:59
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Simon Calder explains Ryanair and Wizz Air hand luggage rule change

Flybe has angered some passengers by taking a new “zero tolerance” approach to its hand luggage policy and charging travellers who fall foul of the rules £54 per flight.

The beleaguered airline, which is in talks with a consortium of airlines led by Virgin Atlantic about a potential takeover bid, has had its current baggage policy in place since 2016. But, starting from 17 January, Flybe told the i that it was taking steps to ensure that all baggage is now fully compliant using a “zero tolerance policy”.

Its allowance compares favourably with other budget airlines – passengers are permitted two cabin bags, one measuring up to 55 x 35 x 20cm, the other a smaller bag that can fit under the seat in front. The combined weight of both items cannot exceed 10kg.

For comparison, easyJet allows passengers just one bag (although it is bigger at 56 x 45 x 25cm), while Ryanair and Wizz Air both only let passengers take one bag the size of a small rucksack onboard for free.

However, passengers may have been caught out by the fact that other airlines’ cabin bag measurements are more generous – Ryanair’s is 55 x 40 x 20cm for priority passengers – meaning bags that have been admissible with rival carriers don’t meet Flybe’s stricter criteria.

Passengers have complained since the change in stance, which has caught many off guard.

Vikki Calcutt, who flew from Birmingham to Belfast on Tuesday 29 January, told the i that staff went through the queue tagging larger bags. Those whose had been tagged had to queue up to try to fit them into the bag sizer – she claims more than 20 passengers were made to pay an oversized baggage fee of £54.

Meanwhile, student Luke Baker was travelling from Newcastle to Exeter on Sunday 27 January with his girlfriend when he was forced to pay the fee.

“We planned it in advance and used the same bags as hand luggage that we always use,” he said. They had no other option but to cough up £54 each.

“As students we struggle with money, so this was very stressful for us. But we had very little choice,” he added.

Allana O’Malley, flying from Knock to Amsterdam via Manchester, tweeted: “Extremely bad customer service @Irelandwest in Knock. Arbitrary enforcement of rules on cabin bag. Even though mine fit in frame, it was not allowed, despite coming over on your plane last week. No explanation. No satisfaction. Won’t be flying with you again!”

A Flybe spokesperson said staff are just enforcing the existing policy.

Man stitches entire contents of cabin bag into coat to avoid new Ryanair policy

“We accept we have in the past been inconsistent in applying this policy, and following customer feedback have taken steps to ensure that all hand baggage is now fully compliant,” they said.

“This make it fair for everyone and also speeds up boarding.”

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