Low-cost airline Norwegian has implemented a new hand-luggage policy on all of its flights that will see the budget carrier asking passengers to stump up “a small additional cost” to make use of the overhead lockers for hand luggage. The policy is similar to one imposed by rival discounter Ryanair back in 2018 that is claimed to have helped improve punctuality by as much as 11 per cent within just a week of it being introduced.
While Norwegian has faced accusations of trying to nickel and dime passengers with its new fee-based carry-on policy, the airline counters that it’s all about giving “customers freedom of choice”.
Under the new policy, all passengers will still be allowed to bring along one small bag for free as long as it can fit underneath the seat in front of them – anything larger, however, will cost an additional fee. The policy only applies to the lowest-priced ‘LowFare’ tickets, although even then, customers can pay for an overhead cabin bag up to four hours before departure.
The cost for an overhead cabin bag will range from $8 for short-haul flights and $12 for long-haul flights.
Customers who have bought a higher-priced LowFare+ or a Flex/Premium/PremiumFlex ticket will have the price of the overhead bag bundled into their ticket cost.
“It’s important for us that everyone has a good travel experience when they fly Norwegian,” explained Cecilie Nybø Carlsen, VP Product Management at Norwegian.
“It is a common misperception that there is enough room in the cabin for all passengers to bring an overhead cabin bag. However, most of our aircraft carry 186 passengers and has space for around 80 overhead cabin bags,” she continued.
“Now, with the new policy in place, our goal is that boarding will be smoother for our passengers, we can avoid spending time rearranging carry-on baggage in the overhead lockers and help ensure that our aircraft depart on time.”
The problem that Norwegian is trying to solve is the same one that Ryanair faced when it relaxed its notoriously stringent cabin bag rules several years ago. Passengers started bringing more bags than there was space for them onboard which lead to delays while crew rearranged luggage or gate-checked bags.
When Ryanair introduced its new policy the airline actually claimed it would cost it €50 million per year. Norwegian, hasn’t indicated whether it might end up losing money in its attempt to reduce hand-luggage induced delays, although interestingly, the airline hasn’t imposed a limit on the number of overhead locker bags that can be bought per flight.
The policy came into effect on January 23, although passengers with tickets booked before this date won’t be affected by the rule change.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.