The beleaguered Finnish flag carrier Finnair says it is going to start getting tough on hand luggage in a bid to reduce costly delays caused by passengers trying to bring too much baggage with them.
Ole Orvér, the Helsinki-based airline’s chief commercial officer, said on Tuesday that gate agents would soon be instructed to closely monitor how much luggage passengers were bringing them to stop people trying to get on board with excess baggage and slowing the boarding process.
Passengers who are flagged as breaking Finnair’s new hand luggage rules won’t only have their bags tagged and placed in the hold, but they’ll also be charged for the privilege.
Along with tougher enforcement measures, Finnair is also introducing a new ticket class with super restricted luggage rules, and the airline is cutting its generous hand luggage allowance for Business Class passengers.
“Punctuality is very important for our customers, and the target of the changes we are now making is to ensure smooth boarding, on-time departures, and comfortable travel for everyone,” commented Orvér.
“Excess carry-on baggage on board is a known issue, impacting both punctuality as well as travel comfort,” he continued.
Of course, it’s not only Finnair grappling with the increasingly commonplace issue of excess hand luggage.
More and more passengers want to bring all their belongings into the cabin with them rather than checking in a case – whether that be because they don’t want to pay for checked luggage or because they don’t want to wait for their case to be returned at the other end, or even worse, get lost by the airline.
There are two typical responses to this challenge. 1. introduce restrictive hand luggage policies or 2. refit planes with larger overhead lockers that can fit at least one wheely bag per passenger.
United Airlines is opting to make a big investment in the latter option, whereas cash-strapped Finnair is going down the path of the first option.
The new policy comes into effect on June 1 and includes a new Superlight ticket type which replaces the existing Economy Light ticket on short-haul flights within Europe.
The Superlight ticket only includes a small bag that must be placed under the seat in front as standard, although passengers who purchase this ticket can still add on a larger carry-on bag for an additional fee.
Even Business Class passengers can’t escape the new luggage restrictions, and a generous allowance of two carry-on bags plus a small personal bag will be cut to just one carry-on bag and a small personal bag.
The Business Light ticket doesn’t include a checked bag allowance at all, while Business Classic and Flex tickets also include one checked bag weighing a maximum of just 23kg.
Passengers might, however, wonder whether some of Finnair’s new policies are more about driving the airline’s ancillary revenue streams. For example, Superlight, Light and Classic ticket holders will now have to pay for seat selection or take the risk of being randomly allocated a seat at check-in.
Finnair says its reservation system will try to seat parties travelling together in adjacent seats, but this isn’t guaranteed unless passengers pay for their seat assignments. Children under 12 will always sit next to at least one adult on the same reservation.
Finnair Plus members will also still be able to assign their own seats in advance and at no cost.
Earlier this year, Finnair said it was replacing Champagne with fizzy white wine in its short-haul Business Cabin and removing pillows from long-haul Economy cabins as part of a slew of measures to quickly reduce costs.
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.