Etihad Airways has just introduced one of the strictest cabin baggage policies for a full-service airline in the world, slashing the allowance for passengers travelling in Economy Class to just one bag weighing a measly 7kg – the equivalent of a five-month-old baby.
The policy was adjusted on Tuesday and the change took effect immediately regardless of when a passenger booked their ticket.
What makes this change so interesting is that Etihad Airways predominantly operates a widebody aircraft fleeting including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and more recently the Airbus A350 – Both of these aircraft have new oversized overhead lockers that have been deliberately designed to store lots more hand luggage.
Passengers travelling with Etihad must now make sure their hand luggage complies with the new rules or they face being made to check in excess cabin baggage at check-in.
The new rules state that the one piece of cabin baggage must:
- Weigh no more than 7kg
- Measure 56 cm x 36 cm x 23 cm
Any last-minute splurge in airport Duty Free must fit within the hand baggage allowance and unlike other airlines, a separate ‘personal item’ is not permitted.
Emirates has an almost as restrictive hand luggage policy but does still allow passengers to bring Duty Free purchases in separate bags onboard. Qatar Airways allows Duty Free purchases and a small personal item.
Some other airlines, however, are far more generous with hand baggage allowances. Air France allows one larger bag up to 55 cm long, along with a personal item like a handbag and Duty Free bags. American Airlines allows a larger bag, along with a larger personal item, Duty Free Bags and a garment carrier.
And British Airways allows Duty Free purchases, a personal item, and an even larger bag weighing as much as 23 kg – the same maximum weight for Economy Class check baggage.
In general, airlines that operate with more restrictive hand luggage policies are low-cost carriers that view luggage as an ancillary revenue stream. In recent years, however, airlines have also looked to cut hand luggage allowances in a bid to reduce delays.
Whether Etihad looks to enforce its new policy with the zeal shown by budget rivals remains to be seen and passengers may be allowed off the hook even if they smash their official luggage allowance.
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.