Hand luggage could be the next airline cash cow

Back in the halcyon days of airline travel, travellers would pay for a plane ticket and be able to travel with as much luggage as they could carry and requests seat allocations at no extra cost.

Nowadays, we are used to paying extra for what were seen as part of the service. It’s not uncommon to spend more on hold luggage, seat allocation and food than the actual airline ticket costs.

The low cost era in plane travel has revolutionised the industry, making flag carrier airlines adopt new practices in order to compete with smaller start up airlines. The competition is so intense that companies are constantly thinking about ways to make more money and keep shareholders their happy.

As far back as 2010, we heard about plans from Michael O’Leary of Ryanair to charge travellers £1 or 1 euro for using the toilet on board its aircraft. Currently, there is no legal regulation for an airline to provide toilets on its aircraft. However, Ryanair has not yet announced a date to implement the plan.

The latest cost saving exercise from Ryanair is a plan to charge customers for cabin luggage as a result of fewer passengers paying for hold luggage and try instead to cram as much into cabin holds. Neil Sorahan, its chief financial officer said the airline could review its its second bag allowance as he said customers were starting to “take the piss”. He said: “I’ve seen two-year-olds wheeling a bag up to the plane as people try to take advantage.”

Sorahan also said: “We’re very generous with our cabin baggage allowance; a 10kg case and a second small carry-on. If everyone does that there’s no issue. It’s the people coming with the kitchen sink that could change the policy.”

One option to prevent large items being taken on board is to make the hold cabins smaller so that only valuables like laptops, purses and jackets will fit. Another option is to charge a fee to guarantee cabin luggage won’t go in the hold. Currently, one in four flights resort to putting cabin items end in the hold as there’s no space on the aircraft.