A quarter of passengers on short-haul flights being blocked at the last minute from boarding aircraft with hand luggage because of a lack of space in overhead lockers, new research claims.
Travellers are being forced routinely to transfer bags to the hold at the airport gate, despite rules barring them from compensation if valuables are lost or damaged.
Consumer group Which? asked more than 7,000 passengers about the 11,000 flights they had been on in the last year and found that more than a quarter (26%) of Ryanair passengers, and nearly one in seven (15%) easyJet customers, unexpectedly had to check in their cabin bag at the gate on their most recent flight.
Other carriers making many passengers part with hand luggage on short-haul flights include Aer Lingus, KLM, Monarch and Jet2, the study said.
Which? said the last-minute switch left travellers at risk due to to small print in airline contracts that meant they often refused to accept responsibility for damage to checked-in bags.
Many passengers told researchers they were unable to transfer valuables out of hand luggage after it was checked in at the last moment, or that bags were not sturdy enough for the hold.
Which? claimed that Ryanair’s standard Boeing 737 had 189 seats but only had enough space in overhead bins for 90 cases. The airline denied this and said it could accommodate 190 standard cabin bags.
In a statement, Ryanair told The Times: “If each passenger brings up to two permitted carry-on bags some of these 380 bags will be put in the hold free of charge.”
Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “Plane cabins are not designed to hold a large number of small suitcases so you should be prepared to part with your carry-on bag .
“If you have to put a bag in the hold at the last minute, try to remove wallets, keys, laptops and other valuables.
“If items do go missing from your hand luggage that you had intended to keep with you, do make clear to the airline that you expect compensation.”
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