Update on June 18: The IATA is reportedly reconsidering its standardized size for carry on baggage following a backlash from North American travelers. This raises doubts as to whether Qatar Airways and other carriers will proceed with plans to reduce the maximum size of carry on baggage.
Qatar travelers with carry-on luggage may need to start packing a bit lighter now that an airline trade association has recommended that carriers reduce the standard size of bags allowed onboard.
This week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has 250 member airlines, released new guidelines regarding the size of cabin baggage.
The new dimensions are smaller than what many carriers in the region currently allow.
But shrinking the size of the luggage would ensure that there is enough space in overhead compartments for every passenger to stow a bag, reducing arguments at the gate, the IATA said.
A senior IATA official said that several carriers, including Qatar Airways, have already expressed their interest in adopting the new standards:
“We have got about 30 to 40 airlines interested, said Tom Windmuller, IATA’s senior vice president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo & Security said in a press interview. “A dozen of them have already stated that they would accept these bags. That includes some of the major airlines in the world such as Emirates, Lufthansa, Qatar etc.”
For passengers, this could mean having to buy new luggage to meet the latest guidelines. The changes could also cause a headache for frequent flyers, especially business travelers, who often rely solely on cabin baggage during their trips.
It may also affect families with young children, who may pack their hand luggage to capacity with games, snacks and extra clothes to keep young ones entertained during long journeys.
IATA has said that the “optimal” size of cabin bag should be 55cm x 35cm x 20cm, or a total capacity of 38,500 cubic cm – which is nearly 17 percent less than the capacity of cabin luggage currently allowed onboard by Qatar Airways (50cm x 37cm x 25cm, or 46,250 cubic cm).
Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to requests from Doha News for a comment.
The new bag size is also smaller than the maximum currently permitted for carry-on bags by other popular airlines operating out of Hamad International Airport (HIA), including:
- Emirates: 55cm x 38cm x 20cm – 41,800 cubic cm capacity;
- Lufthansa: 55cm x 40cm x 23cm – 50,600 cubic cm capacity; and
- KLM: 55cm x 25cm x 35cm – 48,125 cubic cm capacity.
Airlines generally set their own rules for cabin bag size. Dimensions vary considerably between carriers, and can even depend on the country of destination.
Though most Gulf carriers don’t charge for checking bags, carry-on luggage has become more ubiquitous around the world for passengers seeking to avoid paying extra baggage fees charged by some airlines.
But the increased reliance on this type of luggage has caused logistical concerns for carriers, the IATA said as it announced the new guidelines at its annual conference in Miami this week.
In a statement, officials said they have been working with airline members and aircraft manufacturers to come up with the new bag size, to make sure there would be enough space for all passengers to store their luggage on aircraft with 120 seats or more.
According to Windmuller:
“The development of an agreed optimal cabin bag size will bring common sense and order to the problem of differing sizes for carry-on bags. We know the current situation can be frustrating for passengers. This work will help to iron out inconsistencies and lead to an improved passenger experience.”
The IATA added that an internationally agreed-upon size could also reduce the possibility of arguments between gate staff and passengers over whether a bag is the right size to be allowed on board a plane.
However, the new dimensions would not be mandatory, and airlines are free to choose whether to adopt them.
Reuters reports that so far, Brazil’s Azul, Germany’s Lufthansa, Emirates, Avianca, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Eastern, China Southern and Caribbean Airlines have all said they are interested in adopting the new standards, with others set to join them in the coming months.
An “IATA Cabin OK” logo will be designed to signify to airline staff that a bag meets the agreed size guidelines has been developed, the association said.
IATA is also said to be in talks with luggage manufacturers such as Tumi and Samsonite who will make bags according to the dimensions, which should be in shops by the end of this year, the newswire added.