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Ryanair Blasts UK Government Guidance to Limit Hand Luggage… But There’s a Catch

Ryanair Blasts UK Government Guidance to Limit Hand Luggage… But There’s a Catch

Ryanair has hit out at the British government for suggesting passengers should limit the amount of hand luggage they take on flights and instead check-in all their belongings as hold baggage. The so-called ‘COVID-secure’ aviation guidance published on Thursday also suggests passengers should wear face masks in the airport and onboard flights but has been blasted by Ryanair as “nonsensical”.

“The UK DOT (Department of Transport) should stop issuing rubbish advice to passengers about baggage and instead focus their efforts on scrapping the UK’s useless visitor quarantine which the UK Home Office now admit cannot be implemented, supervised or policed effectively,” a spokesperson for the Irish low-cost airline said of the guidance.

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Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary has condemned the 14-day quarantine requirement imposed by the British government earlier this week and has described it as “ineffective” and “unenforceable”. The airline has joined forces with easyJet and British Airways to mount a legal challenge against the quarantine rules which was submitted on Friday.

“In attempting to minimise physical contact during the travel process, particularly on short haul flights, Ryanair recommends passengers to minimise checked in bags and, where possible, confine themselves to one or two carry-on bags which minimises physical contact with other persons,” the airline spokesperson continued.

But while Ryanair has focused its attention on criticising the UK government, the airline has failed to mention that its rules fly in the face of official guidance from European regulators, the United Nations and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – all of whom recommend to avoid hand luggage and instead check bags into the hold.

IATA specifically states in recently published guidance that “carry-on baggage should be limited to facilitate a smooth boarding process with physical distancing”. That same reasoning is shared by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which says interaction should be limited onboard by encouraging “passengers to travel as lightly as possible with check-in of all luggage except small hand luggage that fits under the seat.”

The European Air Standards Authority (EASA), meanwhile, says airlines should implement incentive policies to encourage passengers to check-in their luggage. Such policies would clearly cost airlines even more money at a time that they are already facing a massive financial crunch – especially operators with a low-cost base.

Budget carriers like Ryanair boost their ancillary revenues by selling both check-in luggage and carry-on baggage allowances. Ryanair claims that by selling carry-on baggage allowances its limits the amount that can be taken on and the boarding process is not slowed down. “Therefore (it) eliminates any risk of physical contact with other persons,” the airline said in a statement.

In contrast, Ryanair argues “checked-in bags are handled by multiple different persons at check-in, in baggage holds and while being loaded on to and out of aircraft holds.”

Ryanair might have a point but it would probably be worth the airline arguing its case with regulators and industry leaders before criticising the British government. Unless, of course, the purpose is to discredit the UK’s quarantine rules?

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